Thursday, April 06, 2006



So I drove out to the Columbia River Gorge yesterday, hiked around a little, took pictures, and had a pizza at the Pietro's in Hood River.

If I may digress for a moment, the Pietro's excursion was worth the trip just by itself. Classic pizza parlors have gotten quite scarce over the years, and when you find one, it's to be treasured. It takes you right back to 1983, after soccer practice. It does for me, anyway. There was a time when every pizza place was basically the same: The same fairly short list of toppings, the same bank of classic 80's videogames, the big gas fireplace, the salad bar, everything. If you wanted pizza, that's where you went, rich or poor or anything in between. I don't know what killed off so many of these places. Maybe it was delivery, I'm not sure. My personal theory is that it has to do with the eroding middle class. If you look around the Portland area, you'll see plenty of gourmet pizza places selling fantastic pizza with prices to match (Pizzicato, Hot Lips), and you'll see even more places (nearly all of them big national chains) offering truly disgusting pizza for a heavily advertised low, low price. And next to nothing in between. It's sort of like what's happening in the retail world, where you'll do fine if you're a discount store -- Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc., or a high-end ultra-deluxe retailer like Nordstrom, but there's not a lot of money to be made anymore in between the two extremes.

But I digress. The picture deserves a bit of explanation, I guess. I took lots of pictures of the usual suspects: Multnomah Falls, the Vista House, Horsetail Falls, and so forth, but I thought they were generally sort of unremarkable. You can find far better examples just by googling, But I thought this white sturgeon picture was fairly compelling. I coudn't quite capture the whole face; sturgeon have some droopy catfish-like barbels under their chins, and I missed those. Hey, the fish was moving at the time, I'm just happy it turned out as well as it did. This was taken at the new-ish white sturgeon display at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Sturgeon have armored plates instead of scales, resulting in the extraordinary texture it shows in the photo. To me it looks like someone's attempt to carve a fish out of bubbly black basalt. And let's not forget that weird, glassy eye. Freakin' sea monster, that's what it is.

At least it's an edible sea monster. Here's a recipe that purports to be similar to how Lewis and Clark might have prepared sturgeon. And if you have sturgeon left over, which you will because they're so huge it's not even funny, your favorite search engine will happily give you page after page of sturgeon recipes. I mention this partly because of the whole double meaning thing with the title "Gorge". It's like I'm being sophisiticated and artistic, or something.

So anyway, that's what I did yesterday. Today I went to the art museum and wandered around the new wing. But I'll save that for that other art-related post I promised a couple of days ago.


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