Friday, July 30, 2010
I've now got a week's worth of staycation photos to sort through. Nearly 1200, in fact. In the meantime, here are a few from the archives, from 2007's mini-roadtrip. These were taken in Crater Lake National Park, but they aren't of Crater Lake itself, nor are they of the Pumice Desert just north of the lake. So even though they're quite scenic, they didn't make the cut. Until now. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
As seen near NE 33rd & Sandy. I'm not really a historian of commercial art, or a historian of any kind really, but I'd guess this "Cocktails" sign was created somewhere on the far side of 1960, maybe 1950, maybe even earlier. Since the sign doesn't appear to have moved between then and now, I'd imagine the adjacent building has been home to one bar after another for at least half a century if not more. All of them presumably offering cocktails.
A couple of years ago this spot was home to a Mexican restaurant & nightclub, but a fatal shooting in January 2008 seems to have put an end to that. More recently -- and controversially -- the building reopened as an upscale (by Portland standards) gentlemens club. So I can't help but wonder what some of its previous incarnations were like. Perhaps an outrageous 60's tiki bar, with ridiculously strong cocktails in ceramic moai mugs, and a house orchestra covering Martin Denny's greatest hits. In the 50's it could have featured an ooky racist theme, trying to compete with the infamous Coon Chicken Inn 20 blocks to the east. Could be there's an authentic vintage 70's disco ball gathering dust in the attic, next to a crate full of 45 singles and long-expired Quaaludes. NE Sandy was kind of a dump in the 80's, so I doubt this spot ever featured ferns and wine coolers and Nagel prints and cokehead stockbrokers. Unless they were slumming, which is possible of course.
We may never know for sure, as "real" historians aren't overly interested in this sort of thing. Perhaps if it gets turned into a McMenamins someday we'll get the full story. Generously embellished, of course, and presented as a wacky psychedelic mural. But hey.
A few test shots of cherry tomato & cayenne pepper plants, taken with a 70's-era Domiplan lens I got recently. Conventional wisdom is that Domiplans are pretty much bottom of the barrel, but mine seems rather decent so far. Reviews on MFLenses and Lens Bubbles come to essentially the same conclusion. So it's not just my puny eyes smoking crack here.
The latter review mentions, as one of its pluses, that it has the Meyer-Optik "look", and I'd agree that's a good thing. I have a couple of other Meyer lenses, and the Oreston (their more expensive, faster, closer focusing offering) is one of my all-time favorites (check out this Flickr slideshow for a few of my examples). Also have an ancient Primoplan, which gives a rather zany retro effect (see slideshow).
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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Today's adventure takes us to Sauvie Island, just north of Portland, and an obscure spot variously known as "Wapato State Park", "Wapato Access Greenway", "Wapato State Access Area" and probably other variants I haven't encountered yet. The park, whatever it's called, surrounds marshy Virginia Lake, on the Multnomah Channel side of the island. Apparently it's a great birdwatching spot, so naturally I dropped by in July. Nothing's migrating now, and the lake's close to drying up, and there are mosquitoes all over the place, but at least the weather's better. And more to the point, I had a bit of free time to check the place out right now. Even if I'd been inclined to brave the cold and rain and mud over the winter and early spring, there were meetings to attend and there was code to write and it simply wasn't possible.
If you'd like a bit more comprehensive, and seasonally-appropriate treatment of the place, you might want to check here. Plenty of photos (grey skies and all), GPS waypoints if you need 'em, the whole works.
The park also has a boat dock, which I didn't run across while I was there. Obviously you can only launch boats here that you're able to lug from the parking lot. Maybe you can also dock larger boats here coming from somewhere else. I didn't see the dock, so I'm just guessing about that part.
If (like me) you aren't a boater or an avid birdwatcher, the list of what else there is to do here seems rather slim. The park's on an official list of state parks where metal detecting is allowed, I suppose if you aren't cool or sociable enough for birdwatching. The only hitch is that you can only do it in "developed" areas, which I think means the parking lot, the boat dock, the picnic area, and maybe the viewing platform at the lake. And if you find anything of archeological, historical, or substantial monetary value, you can't keep it. So I didn't see anyone taking the state up on these generous terms while I was there. Which is fine with me. Metal detector guys and their creepy white vans and molesty little moustaches always make me nervous for some reason.
If you'd rather do something useful and non-skeezy, there's always pulling invasive weeds. The local Soil & Water Conservation District organizes volunteer parties to do this in various places, including here. I like to imagine these things are total meat markets, full of earnest, do-gooding, highly attractive single folk, evenly mixed between genders. I have no evidence for this, so you may just want to sign up and check it out for yourself, assuming you meet the aforementioned criteria (so as to not lower the tone). And pull some nasty invasive weeds while you're at it, that being the ostensible point of the whole thing. Oh, and tell them I sent you. Maybe if they get enough volunteers they'll finally forgive me for voting against their tax base measure back in October '06. (It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.)
Fireworks are strictly verboten here, although judging by the size and prominence of the no-fireworks signs, it's possible not everyone plays strictly by the rules. So there's that, I guess, but fireworks aren't going on the list we're putting together. My attitude about fireworks varies: Sometimes I want to tell people to leave it to the pros, who have vastly better fireworks anyway. Other times I want to encourage them to be as reckless as they can, maybe play a fireworks drinking game or something, and to generally just hurry up and blow their hands off already. I think it just depends on what sort of mood I'm in at the time.
There seems to be at least one other thing to do here. When I arrived, there were a surprising number of cars in the parking lot. Two more arrived just after I did -- one of them a VW bus -- and the passengers looked roughly college age. While I wandered around the park I didn't encounter a single soul anywhere, and when I got back to the car the college kids were gone... somewhere, doing... something. I have no idea where they went or what they were up to. And even if I did know, I don't think I'd rat them out anyway.
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On a trip out to the Columbia Gorge today, I stopped briefly and snapped a few photos of the I-84 bridges over the Sandy River. This was pretty much for the sake of completeness in the ongoing bridge project. There's nothing especially distinctive or exciting about them, and they don't have sidewalks or bike lanes to enable the walking across part. I understand that, technically, you can take bikes on the bridge. Apparently you can bike I-84 for its entire length through the Gorge, according to this map & guide from ODOT. But, like several other freeway bridges I've covered (Boone Bridge, Abernethy Bridge, I-205 Clackamas River bridge), that's outside the scope of the project. Because, well, because I just don't want to, and I don't think it's worth it. So there.
The situation's about to change, though. ODOT is in the early stages of a project to replace both bridges with shiny new ones. We're told they'll be nicer to look at than the current pair, which is an easily achieved goal. During a recent redesign they added a dedicated pedestrian & bike crossing to the bridge plans. So that's nice and everything, although the project won't be done until 2013. Still, assuming I haven't departed for warmer climes by then, and I still have any interest at all in bridges at that point, I'll probably drop by for a look. The ongoing bridge project would be incomplete if I didn't, and we can't have that, can we?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Taken at the far end of the Tom McCall Preserve on Rowena Crest. This was taken on my Blackberry & uploaded to TwitVid while I was still there (although it took about 10 minutes, since they apparently don't have 3G out there yet). This would've been crazy blue-sky sci-fi technology back in 2007, the last time I was out there. It still feels like magic, although it's reasonably mundane magic by 2010 standards. I mean, ZOMFG, it's not even HD video, and it's certainly not 3D or anything. And it was merely recorded & uploaded, not Ustreamed live or anything. So, try as I might, I just can't seem to get with the program. On the other hand, I also Tweeted that I was uploading a video, and got a reply from the East Coast. And also picked up a couple of followbots that clued in on me saying "GPS", which apparently is a lucrative keyword. So, other than studiously avoiding Facebook, I think I have the "social media" side of things covered reasonably well.
And to think that when I started this humble blog, I didn't have a mobile phone of any kind yet, and still had dialup interwebs at home.
Oh, and in case you were wondering -- in between uploading videos, and swapping lenses on the ol' DSLR (which doesn't take video, sadly), I took a few minutes to just stop and sit and watch the river and listen to the wind in the grass and relax and unplug a little. That was while this video was uploading, btw.
Monday, July 26, 2010
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Today's adventure takes us to the Bull Run River Bridge, which spans the Bull Run River north of Sandy. If the bridge looks familiar at all, you win extra credit points. This, like the nearby Lusted Road Bridge, is a recycled segment of the original Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland. That's the main reason I tracked this one down; I'm not sure I'd have bothered with something this small and remote otherwise, although it turns out the setting is rather attractive.
Despite the remote location, this area has several ties to Portland. Besides the bridge, the river itself is the source of much of Portland's drinking water. If the name sounds familiar, that's probably why. And directly downstream of the bridge is the old, abandoned Bull Run Powerhouse that once supplied electricity to the Portland area. There's a separate post in the works about the powerhouse and its history, but I've already uploaded the photos, so you can see them here if you're interested.
A traditional part of the ongoing bridge project involves walking over the bridge, taking a few photos, and maybe going on about whether it's safe or pleasant to do so. Unlike its sibling, the Bull Run bridge doesn't have a separate pedestrian walkway, so officially there's no way to get across without wheels. As a practical matter, the bridge isn't very long or very busy, so you'll probably be ok. Or at least that's what I did to snap a few quick photos looking down at the river, while keeping a close watch for approaching traffic. Your luck may vary widely, of course, so caveat ambulator ("let the walker beware").