It’s a been a while…

25 February 2007

Canopy..and many adventures have occurred!  Slowly, I think I’ll write about them.  Pictures included!


(Originally written June 20th 2006)

sunset over the hillPerfect squares?  A new math sequence?  Nope, just integers that describe my rafting trip down the John Day River.

  • 67 miles were rafted from East Clarno to Cottonwood Bridge
  • 16 people participated
  • 4 inflatable rafts were used for 4 days on the river.  It’s also the number hours the raft-dude had to wait because WE waited at the wrong put-in.
  • 25 seconds of “hard rain” fell on us the whole trip
  • 1 oar was broken and 1 oarlock was lost
  • 8 bottles of liquor were consumed
  • 6+ cases of PBR were consumed
  • 20 miles to the nearest town (Fossil)
  • 2 cameras were brought with me (Digital Rebel and Pentax SPII, in a waterproof case)
  • 72 slides were taken by me
  • 300+ digital pictures were taken by me

What a trip!  The river was not very difficult to raft, even for a group like us not having a guide. The one set of rapids (Class III) that we could have had some fun with…we botched.  Totally missed the chute and the ride was hardly bumpy.  We had a better time on some Class IIs the next day. It was so peaceful being out on the river for so many days.  We just lay in the sun and lazed our way down the river.  The river could have been a bit faster moving, but some days we covered over 20 miles.  The “short” day was only 12 miles long.  The five mosquitoes that happened to be in our 67 miles managed to find me and bite me, but no one else (naturally).  My left shoulder is really buff now, since I sat on the left side of the boat 75% of the time.  We had water wars and ganged up on boats. A few times we roped all 4 rafts together and created a “party barge” and literally rolled along the shore (insert unfortunate incident with the oar here).  Oh, and NONE of my belongings got wet in my dry bag (unlike many others!)  Yea!  =)

Very tall rocks with caveCentral Oregon is *gorgeous*.  The whole weekend I could think nothing except geology.  The John Day River carves through layers and layers of  basalt that accumulated over thousands of years.  The basalt came from different areas as well as in different amounts, so you can really see the different layers in the hills.  The John Day region is especially known for its geology.  We were able to visit the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument at sunset on the way to put-in of the trip. I could really go on and on about geology, but it would be easier for you to just pick up a book on the area. =)

(Originally written June 13, 2006)

Have you ever wondered how a float is decorated? I had this happy image that the sponsors of a float would recruit people from the workplace and everyone would gather and happily decorate the float. Boy, was I wrong. It is insanity until the last minute with glue and coconut/seed/parsley/flower petals flying all over the place (and much of it landing on you!)

The floats were decorated in very old buildings up in the industrial area of NW Portland. All the floats are packed into two buildings with about a million people running around. Most of the work that goes into the float construction is done by a company that specifically decorates floats for parades all over the US. They make ’em then ship ’em. The paid workers reminded me of carnies at a circus…a ragamuffin group, but they get the job done. I felt like they all wanted to be actors, so their way in the door was the become set designers or something. In addition to the paid people, there were many, many, many volunteers. KATU put out a call on the noon news Friday to anyone who wanted to decorate the floats was to…just show up! I thought it would be a fun thing to do, so after my 4 hour volunteer shift at the radio station, I volunteered 8 hours with floats! Yep, 8 hours of glue, coconut, frantic-ness, and getting to know many knew people (I went there not knowing anyone).

I was put to work decorating this float in the shape of an “S”. It was to be a Mexican rug, complete with plenty of color. The float wasn’t large, but did it take a lot of work! There were so many colors on the float. Colored coconut: pink, green, white, black, red, purple; Petals: yellow; Colored lentils: orange. What made this float tricky was the changing of colors after you covered your 6 1-foot-by-6-foot panels. Oh, AND the panels were vertical, so there was lots of falling-off of coconut and lentils…oh, the lentils. After you painted one panel halfway with glue, you had a styrofoam “paintbrush” that swept the coconut up the panel. You essentially piled your “paintbrush” with coconut and as you moved the “paintbrush” up, the coconut attached itself to the glue. With your other hand you held a box to hold the coconut stock/catch residue. The big thing to worry about was not contaminating the colors. The glue was stored in huge metal drums that were about 4 feet high…huge!

By the time 10 or 11 rolled around, there were only two people left on the float…me and another guy who also randomly showed up to help. He was a director who had moved here from Los Angeles. He decided he didn’t like the LA scene, so he came to Portland, which has a burgeoning indie film scene. I was able to pick his brain about movies to add to my movie night! By 11.30 pm it was crunch time for the float. Our “adviser” for the float said that the float only needed to be “parade perfect”: it only had to look good from 20 ft away at 5 mph. Too funny! I must remember “parade perfect” from now on.

So if the floats are made in NW, but the parade starts at the Rose Quarter, how do the floats get from point A to point B? Or, more interestingly, which way do the floats travel to get over the river? By the Fremont Bridge, of course! Which is naturally the tallest and windiest bridge in Portland, but has the most direct route. At 1 am the floats line up and traverse the bridge for the start at 10am the next morning. What a romantic sight…20 or so floats silently crossing one of the most beautiful bridges in Portland by starlight. If only I could have had a camera at that time!
Even with all my hard work, I didn’t go see the parade the next day. I excitedly watched for my float on tv the next (same?) morning. I even called my parents so they could look out for it. My best friend was jealous of my float decorating experience…next year, I told her.

So where are the pictures you ask? On film. One of these days I’ll scan them in. =)


30 June 2006

Frog LegsOriginally written June 6, 2006.

Typically during Movie Night, Danielle and I geek out with our laptops…she plays games while I catch up on my WP entries. Since there was no official movie night last night, no entry. Danielle’s illness didn’t stop me from watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, though. I’d never seen the movie before, but I really liked it.

One of my students gives me ideas for movie night.  He’s well-watched in the “darker” movies, or maybe I should say, nonmainstream movies.  I told him how much I liked Butch Cassidy, but I was sad to see them die at the end.  His immediate response was, “Did they actually die, though?”  I thought for another second.  Well, I assumed they died…you hear gun shots, but then they freeze in midair and the screen turns sepia.  I think I now understand the sepia tones at the beginning of the movie now…uncertainty!

Here's lookin' at you, kidSo back to my title.  My parents have two frogs that live in the BBQ…green froggie and brown froggie.  Yes, we check the BBQ every time before we use it.  I could tell the froggies were beginning to become a bit fed up by the end of the photoshoot (especially green froggie since this was the second time I’d stalked him).


31 May 2006

Dodging the hail/rain, lying on the grass, sleeping under the stars, listening to 12 bands, and taking pictures is how I spent my Memorial Day weekend. I spent Saturday through Monday at the Gorge Ampitheatre in George, Washington for the Sasquatch Music Festival. If you've never been to the gorge to see a concert, YOU MUST GO once before you die. You feel like you're at the end of the world and about to fall into the gorge. All day as I listened to music, I couldn't help but think how chock full of history the area is. Thankfully, I brought a book or two about geology as I listened to music.

The Columbia River Gorge was carved out by the breaching of a giant ice dam in Clark Fork, Idaho. Columbia River GorgeThe ice dam held back glacial Lake Missoula, which spidered its way from Clark Fork, Idaho, down to Missoula, Montana. The water came gushing down from Idaho, across SW Washington, down the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, then down through the Willamette Valley. The wonderful soil in the WV is due to silt settling from the lake that was formed from Portland on down.

The layers that one sees in the walls of the gorge is from the many, many different basalt flows over millions of years. There were spouts of lava that came up all over eastern Oregon/Washington, and this basalt flowed like a river westward. Different regions have their own flow names. For example, Roza basalt, Picture Gorge basalt, Grand Ronde basalt, and many more. Each basalt has a slightly different composition, and thus different properties and colors. Sometimes it was years and years between two different basalt flows, so vegetation was able to grow on the new basalt. When the next basalt flood would come through, the new vegetation would be trapped, thus making an obvious layering look in the canyon wall.

The weather was nice enough this weekend that I was able to sleep under the stars both nights. It was amazing to see so many more constellations than back here in Portland. I think I was able to see every summer constellation out there, amny of which I haven't seen in a while. My weather band on my car said the temp reached the 50s at night. I was a bit cold the first night, but fine the second. Yea for goosedown! My friends thought I was nuts for sleeping outside the tent. At least this year I wasn't bugbitten on the eyelid!

Death Cab for CutieWell, the whole point of the trip was music, not geology and astronomy. Sunday I sat from 11.30 until 10 listening music…amazing music. I was able to see: Blue Scholars, Nada Surf, The Decemberists, Death Cab, Matisyahu, and a few others. All the bands I liked were amazing. I've seen the Decemberists about 4 times live now…they are so entertaining! I managed to sneak in *two* removeable lens cameras (hehe!) and got some pretty good pictures. I'm not that crazy about sitting close at concerts, so even though I had a telephoto lens, the performers are still sorta small.

Cameraphone picture of meAll in all, I highly recommend going to Sasquatch, or any concert, at the Gorge Ampitheater. Camp on Vantage road, not in the designated campground. And most of all, read up a bit on the geology of the area. (Vantage used to be a tropical climate before the Cascade Mountains were "born", so there are some nice petrified trees at the Gingko Petrified Forest.)

Movie Madness

24 May 2006

My very good friend, Danielle, would call me cinematically challenged. She gasps at the lack of movies I have seen in my lifetime. Well, we weren’t really a see-movies type of family. So, I’ve had some catching up to do.

Every Tuesday night (when her husband has Boys’ Night…they watch “The Shield”) we get together for movie night. This quickly evolved into a “you get two movies, and I’ll get dinner” sort of thing. Every week we switch duties. The theme we pretty much have going is “the classics”: all the old, great movies that every one of our parents know and all the Academy Award winners. There are mini-themes in our watching. So far there has been Bogart, westerns, and war movies.

The most interesting part is watching these old movies in recent times. A few months ago we watched “From Here to Eternity”. My dad highly recommended it. My opinion? Eh…it was ok. It’s definitely interesting watching a movie that others rave about, 60 years later. Times change and what was new and exciting back then can be slow today. I mostly notice the pace of old movies. Nowadays, if you don’t have the audience hooked in the first five minutes, they will never pay attention. “From Here to Eternity” didn’t pick up until the last 15 minutes it seemed when everyone died…the slowest buildup ever! “North by Northwest” was also sort of the same. I have also learned that not all old war movies are serious and boring. “Stalag 17” was very funny and tonight’s “The Dirty Dozen” was also pretty funny. (I especially liked how the people dove out of windows after they had been shot, looking like they were jumping into a matress pit!)

So that I learn to appreciate these old movies more, I’m doing a little bit of research on each movie on IMDB. I’d like to know who the director was and what key actors were involved. I’m creating my own little web of movie stars. There’s nothing like useless factoids to keep me interested. This will also serve a purpose, though…keeping people entertained with useless knowledge on long car trips!

Below is my list of movies that I have seen, so far. I’ll keep updating my list. If anyone has any interesting/favorite movies that you think I should see, leave me a comment!

  • North by Northwest
  • Stalag 17
  • The Pajama Game
  • Casablanca
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  • The Dirty Dozen
  • Dirty Harry
  • From Here to Eternity
  • The Graduate
  • Gone with the Wind

Trojan Implosion

23 May 2006

Trojan ImplosionAre you as peppy as I am if you have to get up at 3.45am? It's amazing how much energy I can store on such little sleep. Such was the case last Sunday morning for the Trojan Implosion Flickr field trip. I was happy to have a big hand in organizing the outing…from contacting people, to reconissaince, to getting the coffee and doughnuts for the adventure.

I spent two mornings doing recon work trying to find the best place to watch the demo. I drove all up and down Neer City Road (in the hills above Hwy 30) and didn't find much. No place would let me get the *whole* view of Trojan. I did find an interesting cemetary, though. The oldest person there was born in 1825…a nun I think. She was born on Christmas day, too.

Two days later I went to the Washington side. I found "the best* viewing spot in the world. I figured (as well as everyone else) that we'd be the only ones out there. Boy was I wrong! We arrived at the good spot at 6 am Sunday morning (t-minus 1 hour) to find my good spot FULL! Absolutely packed! I was so bummed to find there was not extra space to pack in a tripod (or 5).

Erik ran up a hillside and found an amazing spot. We tromped in on some people's campsite, but yea for doughnuts to thank them for our amazing views. It turns out one of the dude's went to OSU and we had calculus classes together. What a small world!!

There was a warning shot fired about a minute out. By that time we all had our tripods set up and film and/or digital ready to go. My 75-300IS lens was all ready, with my remote shutter in my left hand. In my right had was my dad's Pentax Spotmatic II. Holding both (remember…I have to crank the film after a picture) was quite a task, but I practiced before hand. All these test shots to make sure I was ready for the "real thing". (It's not like they can do it again!) So after all this preparation, Morgann and I were talking when Trojan began falling!! We couldn't believe it! The picture above was the first one I clicked off. Thankfully my finger was still on the remote shutter!

The die hards

After it was all over (check out YouTube if you missed it), it was very exciting to look at other people's pictures. The five of us formed a Trojan Explosion group and have found other people to join the group with their pictures. I am very happy to see the count on my pictures go up so much! I almost have 1000 views on the picture above, at the time I write this. I feel so special to know that my picture made it to Flickr Interestingness (May 21, page 4)! I have one minute of fame! =D The funny thing is, my picture is super grainy and it's close up, but not that good. Oh well.

In the photo (left to right) are Erik, Angie, Morgann, and Joe.