Archive for July, 2010

Toulumne Meadows

You can’t beat a long weekend with friends, good food, perfect weather, campfires and streams. Can we do this all the time?

A note on going to Toulumne. Staying up here is much nicer cooler and calmer than Yosemite Valley, but you must reserve early- as in- February (thanks Ned and Alice). Must have campsites are in the A section by the river but the rest of the A section is packed tight- not so nice. We were in the E/F section. Lots of room, lots of quiet (except maybe for us), a little far from anything outside the camp.

Rowing Station L

Edward took me down to his team’s boathouse this morning and I got a nice little guest row in. Perhaps somewhere in my mind I was trying to do a little spying on a team that gave us a run for our money at NW master’s championships and that I would be pleased to be part of should I have the pleasure of moving back to Portland.

The boathouse is in a larger office building and opens up onto a parking lot right under the I-5. The boathouse is quite new but they have a bit heftier walk sown to the dock than we do.

Our row took us from the I-5 down almost to the Ross Island. A series of 5 minute pieces. For a boat with throw in from another club and a few folks I understand are fairly new, it was a pretty good row. Nice bright Vespoli 8 that set itself pretty well. Oh yes, and I was in 5 seats which means I have now sat in every seat of an eight.

That was all at 5am this morning though and as it is now nearing 11:30 I’ll have to leave it there.

Portland

Sometimes I don’t know what I would do if we stayed in Portland for more than a few days. Somehow, each time I come back I repeat the same pattern. I almost always end up at the Hedge House for lunch. If we’re lucky, it’s two fifty dollar beer Tuesday. I get a PABST sandwich. This time I was surprised to find that the S in my PABST, sprouts, had been replaced with salad greens (the rest being provolone, avocado, bacon and tomato). The whole thing was something about new management- frankly, nonsense. After lunch I always seem to end up back at Reed. I’m pulled to it like a current that needs grounding. This time round we found two of my favorite profs, one of which we spent the afternoon chatting with on the grass. We visited our home of an Admission office and assured Jenny we’d be staying with her on our return trip. I had to check out the new dorms while there were no students to scare me away and. I was quite impressed but left wondering the $/sq ft. for those guys. To save me from the sense of opulence, I was happy to see that the dorms hadn’t stayed too pristine and graffiti still has some place at Reed. I checked out the “I love a…” bathroom stall in greywood. Still there, but the symphony of voices doesn’t seem to have the depth and complexity that it used to. Is it me or is it the wall? By then the day was done. With the requisite stop and Mikes Drive-in for raspberry and blackberry shakes (do I remember them having marrion berry shakes?) we returned to our lovely hosts home and found tasty food and gelato near by. Now the day is totally spent and we’re hitting the road again. If we missed you on this leg we’ll catch you on the way back up. I promise.

4th of July

When we started planning our summer adventure, we made sure that it started before the 4th of July. It can be one of my favorite holidays and I’m always a little disappointed to be in another country for it. Canada has it’s Canada day 3 days earlier on July 1st, but it’s just not the same.

As with all holidays you have really got to find a place to celebrate it right and I’m pretty sure the best place for the 4th of July is Horsehead Bay on Washington’s Olympic penninla. Family friends have a house on the bay and they know how to do things right. We arrived to a patio full of food and flowers and friends. The table centerpiece was a giant bowl of steamed clams picked up right on the beach below their house and cooked up with just a little bit of celery. As fast as we ate them the bowl just kept filling up. While our hostess Jane manned the clams, our host Jess pulled the teens in the group around a bay. Two years ago when the temperature was closer to 80 this looked like more fun, but I guess if your dad offers to pull you around in a boat, you take him up on the offer.

Lest you question the superiority of this 4th of July event by noting that clams are not BBQ, don’t worry there was plenty of burgers to go around and of course dessert, American style.

Then of course there were the fireworks. We had made a requisete stop at the Indian reservation for fireworks but even though we had bottle rockets, roman candles and real sparklers we really couldn’t beat what was all around us.

See, on the bay here, there is almost a competition between households up and down the waterway as to who can do the best fireworks display. Starting before the sun went down around 9:30 we watched thousands of dollars go up in smoke all around us. Our dock’s crew waited until the sun had completely set before launching their $4k worth of kaboom.

The whole place sounded like a war zone, but I love fireworks and I’m happy to thank Francis Scott Key for getting us to associate big noises and bright sparks of fire with independence and national pride. Sometimes when watching a particularly beautiful bloom I hand help but hum to myself  “…the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” It’s a little sappy and perhaps misplaced, but it’s Americana at it’s best and I love it.