Monthly Archives: July 2012

Trip Day 8 – Mt. St. Helens, Astoria

After amusing ourselves in downtown Portland, we then make our way north to the mountain that so grabbed the nation’s attention in 1980 when it erupted and caused the biggest landslides of the year (if you don’t count Reagan v. Carter a few months later).

As usual we just meandered north. There was some amount of doubt about where we should go and upon asking the local ranger he sent us hours out of the way so we quietly nodded our assent to his wise plan and instead just continued on our “chosen” path. Unsurprisingly, we managed to see the mountain far in advance of any solid plan to get up close and personal with it.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

The area of the country in general is not to be missed. If mountains don’t appeal then the water surely will.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

As the birds will no doubt attest.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Driving up the mountain can be insidiously dangerous. I’m not talking about the winding narrow roads really but the views, appearing suddenly unbidden from nowhere, are enough to drive one distractedly off the edge of a cliff. Luckily, the respective departments of public works in the Northwest are aware of this and tend to provide fairly regular turn-offs for those seeking eye-candy. It does strike a stake through my heart though to see a strip of trees cleared for power lines.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

My favorite view of the trip really, is (I think) from somewhere along 503. The turnoff is not noted as scenic; it’s just a place you pull off to the side of the road to put chains on your tires in winter. Just a hum-drum run of the mill spot on the mountains. What makes me smile here are the colors and the layering: water, stone and life co-existing so solidly built upon each other.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Along the way we wandered into an area in which ancient lava had buried a doomed forest tens of thousands of years ago. The tree trunks left these holes and caverns through the hardening rock. Indeed the lava won in the long run but at least the trees left their mark on history.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m a big believer in travel serendipity. They also know that I’m a big fan of bugs so when this unusual critter was spotted on Eric’s tie-die shirt it was giddy, happy joy.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

After what seemed like hours, our first view of the mountain itself.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

The periodic run-ins with hot lava combine with the local waterways to create some pretty interesting geography.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Landscape so thrilling (and filled with signs protesting: “Extreme danger! Do not leave trails!”) that even the young among us dance a merry jig on along the way.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Having finished our romance with the mountain, we leave her behind.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

And make our way to the sea once again to watch the sun set on Day 8 in Astoria.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria
From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria
From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Day 9 will find us awake bright and early in Astoria before we wander south to Cannon Beach.

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Trip Day 7 – Downtown Oregon

To this point in the trip we had kept quite solidly to the green side of the street. Day 7 found us wandering the more urban byways of Portland.

Having unnecessarily parked rather far from our destination, we walked past this edifice with the still unexplained signage. When we went by in the morning the neon sign proudly proclaimed ‘working’. By the time we came back later in the day the sign had changed to ‘playing’ and there was quite a shindig going on.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

There was more than a bit of provocative signage.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Always an ecologically friendly town, apparently Wednesday is recycling day at the drag club. (Well, recycling of SOME sort at any rate)

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Somehow, as always seems to happen, we ended up in the homeless section of town. We learned later that this area was actually intentionally set up for the homeless. If you can’t feed them at least keep them all in one place, I guess?

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Part of me wishes that we’d come back to see this place when it was really hopping. A larger part is glad that we didn’t.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Ah, here we are. The view from any bridge never fails to appeal.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Mmm. Roll’n Smokes… because you never know when there’s going to be a tobacco emergency and you’ll have to high-tail it to the scene!

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Must admit that there’s no shortage of very yummy beverages in Portland. Or, for that matter, in Oregon in general. That said, I’m guessing the lion gets first dibs. I’d bet though that after a few glasses he’s pretty docile.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Voodoo donuts is a raging Portland tradition but from what I saw on offer I have no idea why. Their concoctions sound fairly disgusting and suffer from rampant sugar overload…

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

… but this never ending line of people and I will just have to agree to disagree it seems.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Not everyone’s into donuts though. This person, for example, apparently prefers cereal.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

And this guy prefers… well, he looks like he fought with the thirsty lion and lost…

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Just tempting fate… more people set their veils on fire this way…

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

And there are plenty of people you just don’t forget easily. If these two end up in a police line-up for some reason they are TOTALLY screwed.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

This group reminded one of the malodorous hippies of the 60s. They could be smelled 50 feet downwind.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

No trip to Portland is complete without visiting the 24 hour church of Elvis.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

And lastly, we roll wearily to the end of the day with our heads hung far low.

From 7-5-2012 Day 7 – Downtown Portland

Day 8 finds us pressing our luck against unexpected volcanism on Mt. St. Helens. Will we make it out alive or will we end up a molten cinder?! Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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Trip Day 6 – Oregon Caverns

I often say that day 3 of a trip is the day when you finally really get the knack of things and settle down to properly look around you. Similarly, day 6 is the day when you say to yourself, “yeah, I could just stay here forever… I wonder if anyone would notice…?”

Day 6 found us at the Oregon National Caverns. If any environment is going to addle one’s photographic brain then it’ll be this one. The trip started with a long, twisting and vertiginous drive along the side of a mountain. When finally we arrived it seemed closely akin to the middle of a very verdant nowhere.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Generally we try to stay as far away as possible from anything that might be called a tour but what with the locked gates and all over the cave entrance we had to follow around the park ranger. She was nice enough but she seemed in a terrible hurry which can tend to be rather annoying when you’re trying to look at all the things you came a long way to see.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Once inside, as promised, the photography was rather daunting. With the ISO cranked up as far as one dares and the shutter speed as slow as one dares there is some odd color to be seen.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And some ghostly detail as well.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

The standard cave formations that I recall from my 100 trips through caves as a child. If my real life “draperies” looked like this then I might send them for cleaning.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And it’s almost as if someone left the pudding to overflow eons ago and didn’t clean it up.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

You can just barely make out some ancient graffiti that has been layered into the rock in the 100 years since it was originally scrawled here.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

The uppermost section of the cavern sports this rather Lovecraftian decor. I expected Cthulhu to crawl out from behind a wall at any second.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

When we exited the cave we were immediately greeted by a fawn that was VERY close to the cave entrance. In a panic I tried desperately to adjust my camera settings from “too dark to really take a picture” inside the cave to “blinding daylight” just outside it. I assumed the dear deer would be quickly on its way but as it turns out no panic was necessary since the creature seemed relatively tame.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

Dig those crazy eyelashes. They’re a mile long.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks
From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

And so now with this end-view of our shy woodland Bambi, we put an end to day 6 in Oregon. Day 7 finds us in Downtown Portland with all its varied offerings.

From 7-4-2012 Day 6 – Oregon Caverns – Portland Fireworks

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Trip Day 5 – Eel River, Redwoods, California

Day 4s redwoods were mired in a cloud bank of fog. Day 5 dawned clear and crisp but the trees themselves were no less impressive for lack of their foggy crowns.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

One thing about having a fish-eye lens handy is that it helps to give a true (well, admittedly, sometimes exaggerated) sense of perspective. Laura looks tiny down in the corner.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

And you can’t beat 8mm for giving someone that larger-than-life look.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

For me, the place is almost worthy of worship. To the first settlers who made their way here I can’t imagine what their reactions must have been. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way and they just can’t help leaving their mark here.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

Leaving these ancient giants, we made our way down 101 and stopped to putter about the Eel River gorge a bit. The Eel was a bit dry this time of year so we could walk down into the river bed and feel the mighty grip of the shoreline close up around us.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

Everywhere you look your surroundings seem worthy of a postcard.

From 7-3-2012 Day 5 – Redwoods – Eel River

And thus we close day 5. This set reminds me of just how utterly random our travels were. After making our way south a bit for no real reason, Day 6 will find us back in Oregon exploring the Oregon National Caverns.

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Trip Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

Day four found us wandering further south to the Redwood Forests of Northern California. It was a bright but cloudy day so the trunks of those venerable trees pushed their way up so far that they vanish into the clouds.

From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

Those misty clouds help to explain the lushness of the verdant undergrowth. With the Midwest gripped in drought, it was a welcome sight to one whose eyes have been all too often blinded by the grit of the dusty roads around here.

From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

And they even grow the centipedes bigger here.

From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest
From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

A million raindrops dance on the edge of every leaf.

From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

All under the protection of those ancient patriarchs.

From 7-2-2012 Day 4 – Redwood National Forest

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Oregon Trip – Day 3 – Crescent City, California

After Crater Lake, we then made our way south. It looked something like this

The first stop on that trip was Crescent City, California, home of rocky shores and lighthouses.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

Oh, and sea birds.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

On the day we were there the weather was chilly and the seafowl were hungry.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

Something about these rocky beaches set against the liquid movement of the sea just makes one stop and take a deep and satisfied breath.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

At the end of the breakwater, we found these strange concrete… somethings… that I’m still not sure of the purpose for.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

Hours later we moved to a softer spot on the beach.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City
From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

Mucking about in the tide pools, life teems.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City
From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City
From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

In the evening, we viewed the area from the opposite vantage point.

From 7-1-2012 Day 3 – Crescent City

And we watched the sun set on a chilly ocean.

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Oregon Trip – Day 2 – Crater Lake

It was my intent when we started the Oregon trip to take time every single day to blog. I reasoned that there was no better chance to catch the details than right at that exact moment. As the date on this post amply testifies that totally different happen. So I guess I’ll have to plumb the depths of my recollection and try to reconstruct it. Perhaps it will find itself sanitized by the effort.

On day two we pried ourselves out of the sumptuous accommodations of the downtown Portland Motel 6 and headed south. This is the part of the trip where one is still acclimatizing oneself to the fact that the place you’re in is ludicrously scenic. Sometimes you stop along any cut-out in the road and spend 2 hours being in awe only to realize over the next several days that the whole damn state is equally as scenic or better. We did this in Arizona too hiking towards some massively interesting rocks for hours only to finally move on and realize that they were tiny compared to the rest.

In Oregon it was the Umpqua river that first caught our attention on this day.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

Trees + Rocks + Water… I’m not sure it gets any better. The math works out magically.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

Eric was fairly impressed.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

One thing that Eric and Laura spotted that I breezed past were these Horsetails. In Indiana we see these just as denuded stems but in Oregon they grow in a wonderfully Jurassic pattern.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

Yeah…. just yawningly cool.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

And there are people who can come and see this every flipping day. Good lord.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

Oh to be a bird… even a turkey buzzard… with a camera, of course.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

One could really get lost in these winding tributaries.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

At places like this one feels lucky to be able to see into the cross-section of the forest. It’s like slicing open a kiwi.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

The road is certainly a long and surprisingly straight one in many places.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

I remember this point in the trip. It was the point in which I suddenly realized that I was stupid for not packing warmer clothes. We stopped briefly at Diamond Lake which apparently resides in a totally different season of the year from the rest of the country.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake
From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

So… Crater Lake… yeah, try as I might, photos just won’t cover it.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

There’s just so *MUCH* of it. Perhaps it’s the sheer size and the realization that a few steps forward and you could plummet to an icy death.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

Plenty of life in this chilly spot though.

From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake
From 6-30-2012 Oregon Day 2 – Crater Lake

And so ends, more or less, Day 2. The next day we make our way to the sea.

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