I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I have not been in a writing mood lately, or at least not one that produces blog posts. Actually, I seem to have fallen into an irritating frame of mind, perhaps one that plagues all new bloggers a few months into the game. It compels me to take every random thought, every witty self-aside, and say, "I should blog about that!" I suppose it's good to have a net catching some of these things, but thank goodness for self control. Otherwise, the world would be subjected to my innumerably strange "shower thoughts." (i.e. Thoughts whilst in the shower, which seem much wittier there than when they appear in actual text.)

So while my brain is occupied with other things, I thought I would share a few pictures from TSO's visit, which you can also read about here and here. (His version.) Mine will be shorter because, as I said, I have no current blogging abilities.

Cape Disappointment, a grand place to start a trip, waking up to a morning stroll on the beach. I love low perspective, so I put my camera near the sand and captured the North Head lighthouse. Alas, my poor camera was to suffer many near-sand experiences in the next few days.

The wind off the Pacific is relentless in these parts, so it's not uncommon to see little driftwood structures built to block it. (Hard to start a fire otherwise, y'see.) This one was surprisingly elaborate. I suspect whoever built it had a lot of hands or a lot of time. And look! They left a wee little man hiding inside!

The Astoria Column, a tower depicting the history of the mouth to the Columbia, is difficult to photograph. It's difficult to see, period. The art and text scrolls around from the bottom up. TSO and I walked around a few times to read the bottom half, but it was a dizzying way to try to get a bit of history. Much better was the view from the top and the myriad of tourist shirt colors that we watched from above - hot pink, blazing blue, all the colors of the acid rainbow. I was not excused. I chose to wear one of my eye-hurting "Aloha" shirts, cattle brand of the tourist. But since I was technically touring, I couldn't care less. (Plus, it would make me more locatable in a storm, so there was that safety aspect.) Here is part of the Column in detail, with "Before the White Man Came" on the bottom and the entrance of Robert Gray's ship "Columbia" into the river's mouth.

Indian Beach, Ecola State Park (I keep wanting to call it "Ebola State Park") where we walked up a cliffside trail to gaze out on the lighthouse "Terrible Tilly," so named, I have since learned, because of the challenge it posed to keepers. The waves eventually battered the original Fresnel lens to pieces and now the lighthouse sits dead, quite literally. It is privately owned, converted into a resting place for the ashes of the deceased. The photo is stock. (We saw it without the waves.)

And here is good ol' Cannon Beach, cooperating by finally giving us some sun (the fog had been trailing us all day,) not much wind, and balmy, BALMY 53 degree water. Balmy, I say. It was brisk and delightful, one of those sorts of wades that makes you feel good all over, like you're really alive. It was in no way cold or unpleasant. We could have spent all day wading out to sea, deeper and deeper, the cormorant bones swirling at our toes, until the steep green sides of Japan rose up to meet us. (We would have come dripping out of the water like Godzilla.) Wading the Pacific is much like biting into a lemon at a dinner party, only prettier.

Hey, here's a fun side note. A university team has recently been running scale models on what would happen if a tsunami were to hit this particular area. The fault line sits very close to the shore, so there wouldn't be much warning when the big one started to come. In their scale model, all of the little scale buildings are pretty much blasted to smithereens. It's left them scratching their heads, going "Think, think, think," since, of course, sooner or later such a tsunami will actually happen. The current idea is to try to built vertical towers that people could run to, towers which would supposedly survive the initial blow and still stand above water line. Aren't disaster scenarios fun to think about?

Anyway, I got tired of taking "pretty" pictures.
And then we were back to my home turf, Land of Many Large Sand Dunes. We flung ourselves off the highest dunes just like I did back in my school days (TSO has a video on his blog). Unlike my school days, I felt the effect of the diving for many days afterwards. What happened to my youthful springiness? I would post the video of my own dune dive, but I was purposefully flailing around like a rag doll, which I realize, in retrospect, is a bit embarrassing to watch, unlike TSO's mighty heroics. Hmm. I, too, ended up with sand in my ears/hair/nose which continued to shake out over the next week. Someday I'm going to try diving in a plastic bag, just to see if I can sand-proof myself.

The wind was extremely vicious at the top of the dunes, so much so that I in my bare legs could hardly stand the pain of being sandblasted. We were diving on the leeward side where the sand was the softest, which meant that on each climb back up there came a point just near the crest of the dune where the wind would blast sand directly into your face, and as you were already disoriented from the tumble down, you would have to clamp your eyes shut and grope around for the top of the dune, trying not to overshoot and go falling down the opposite side. (I'm speaking of my own experience here. I don't know why I'm talking in second person.) We had been dodging ATVs while we hiked - they tend to come tearing out from nowhere if you don't pay attention - but after my last dive a group of them came to the top of the dune. One fellow pulled right up to us, took off his helmet, and said, "Wow! Did you do that on purpose? I can't believe you guys are doing that! That rocks!" Or something like that. It's hard to impress hotdogging ATVers, so I took it as a nice feather in my cap. (Since the real feather in my cap had been blown all the way down to California at this point.)

A picture of dune trekking. Sepia tone is oh so a'pretty.

After this day of much blowing sand, my camera suffered greatly, to the extent that even now I am still shaking sand out of it. For a short while the lens ominously refused to open, but I think it worked that out with itself. In case any of you camera-loving folks are wagging your fingers at me, I have to say that my beloved camera was never anywhere close to the actual sand, and that all the sand it accumulated was entirely airborne. If you want to photograph the dunes without such repercussions, you may want to look into getting a bio-hazard suit.

(And again with the second person! I must not be getting enough iron in my diet.)

The next day it was back up to PDX, City of Roses, where we wandered around the rose test garden just to make sure. (The garden is literally a place where they test new variety of roses, destroying forever the ones that don't pass muster.) I have now decided that my mythical future dream garden must include a few roses. Maybe even a black one. That would be all cool and Gothic, wouldn't it?

Thanks to TSO's eyes we were able to find our way downtown. (My reading abilities are still hampered by my recent bought with infection.) We wandered around downtown borderline "lost," enjoying all the wonderful sights and sounds and posters for scandalous things. (Portland is no city of vicars.) Total elapsed time to hear an inappropriate remark from a creepy stranger - 3 minutes. Yeah... I'm not such a big fan of cities, but they have their place, I s'pose. We strolled down the waterfront park until we found ourselves in the neighborhood of Voodoo Doughnuts, and this time I discovered the delights of A) vanilla doughnut topped with marshmallow and Tang powder, and B)devil's food doughnut topped with Coco Puffs. Maddeningly delicious. Afterwards we were sucked into the inescapable pull of Powell's City of Books, one of the largest independent bookstores in the world, a Twilight Zone realm where three hours feels like ten minutes. We entered through the main doors, glanced at each other, and said, "See ya!" The rooms at Powell's are all sorted by color, each color denoting a different subject, and I gleefully trotted between the Green Room and the Rose Room and the Orange Room (and the all-important Purple Room, where the bathrooms are) trying desperately not to fill my arms and empty my bank account. It would be fun to work there, except I think I would end up tipping over one of the bookshelves and just rolling around in the resulting pile of books like a buffalo in a dust wallow. Still, a girl can dream.

The river park gave me the chance to catch this nifty pic of the "Made in Oregon" sign, a PDX landmark. The words "Old Town" hang underneath. I played around with the graphics (chrome!!) to give myself a few jollies. I still remember that sign from times waaay back when I was a little kid riding in the car through Portland, and how they used to (and still do) put a red nose on the deer for Christmas. The deer is the symbol of White Stag Sportswear, what used to be one of Oregon's prominent companies before the time of Nike and Columbia. Guess who owns it now?

(Answer: Wal-Maaaaart... and it's now made in Chinaaaa... Cruel irony.)

The longer I type, the more my urge to blog is resurrected. Interesting. But it's late and I must away, and so suffice to say it was a grand trip and good fun to play the tourist game. Anyone else care to come visit?

I just have to add...

Dear...heaven...and...earth.... Could Blogger possibly make it any harder to work with pictures if it tried???!? I feel like I deserve an award every time I finish smashing a photo in the HTML. Criminelly, that's all I have to say about that.


SWP said...

or E.coli State Park

TSOldtimer said...

E. coli was definitely where I wanted to go with that, too. Thanks for the invite! I had a great time, and your post filled in a lot of the details that mine missed. Spiffy! Too bad you didn't post your own dune dive video. Maybe I'll find a place for it over in Travelin' Shoes...

Kt said...

E.coli! I can't believe I never thought of that! That park just sounds diseased all over, doesn't it?

TSO, I need to consult you for photo help, since you always seem to do it so well on your blog. And if you post that vid, I will find ways to haunt you in your sleep. Is it not enough that the still picture you took on my second dive turned out to be the most unflattering picture of me ever? (I'm apparently not a picturesque diver.) Luckily, it's on my camera, so the world will never know. Ha!

Monster Library Student said...

Great blog Kt. I too agree, E-Coli state park...is that close to Salmonella Bay? ;)

-W- said...

But the cool thing about the White Stag/Made In Oregon Building is that it's going to be the new home of the archicture program for UofO, and it's going to be an LEED Gold building! They're gutting it, and recycling everything, and saving the rain water in the basement to use to flush toilets.

Kt said...

Rocks! Leave it to PDX to cherish the good things. Any other city probably would have blown that old building to smithereens. Or am I being a bit biased?