Oregon

From July 8 – 15, the family went out to Oregon to see some lovely things and to visit with my sister-in-law, Ashley. We landed in Portland on the afternoon of Friday, July 8, and wasted little time in going out into the drizzle of rain to visit a toy store called Finnegan’s and of course Powell’s Books, which was magnificent. We pushed our son’s culinary boundaries a bit by going to a Persian place for dinner (his verdict re the beef kabob he ordered was an unexpected “amazing”). Ashley had taken the bus over from her city a couple of hours away by the morning, and we went to the Waffle Window for breakfast (another “amazing” from our son, who had the lovely fruit-laden waffle pictured below).

From there we went to the Chinese garden in Portland, which was nice. We were most taken with the mosaics covering the floor of the place.

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Mosaics covered the ground at the Chinese garden.

We took our leave of Portland for the time being and headed west to the beach at Newport, stopping at the Otis Cafe on the way. It was a cute little (semi-famous?) place with magnificent cheesy hash browns and tasty breakfast and sandwich fare.

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We had a great lunch at the Otis Cafe on the way from Portland to Newport.

I didn’t get many pictures at the shore of Newport beach, but I can report that on Saturday evening, it was chilly and rainy. We dipped our feet into the Pacific ocean (a first for three in our party), and the kids waded a bit more before we called it quits. We swam a bit in the hot tub and heated pool as the rain ebbed, and then we retired for the evening to play games and have a healthy dinner of popcorn and marion berry pie from the Otis Cafe.

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A pretty dreary day at the Newport coast. We had to take 112 steps down a wooden stairway to get from our condo to the sand.

In the morning, we tried the shore again. The water remained frigid, but it was a little sunnier, and we waded and splashed a little before packing up and heading to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the nearby tide pools. I grew up going to beaches in North Carolina. A tide pool in my experience had been basically a little pool on the sea shore where you might find a few stranded creatures. At Dog Island off the coast of Florida a few years ago, the kids saw such a tide pool. My expectations of encountering a similar pool on this visit were way off. Here we found stones leading to rocky land in which pools formed offering us views of sea anemone, sea urchins, various mussels, hermit crabs, and a few star fish. It was really unexpected an lovely, far beyond what I had hoped to encounter and a real treat.

As we were leaving, we heard cries that a whale had been spotted, and sure enough, we saw a spout off in the distance a few times. We also passed an overlook from which we could see a few dozen seals lounging and lumbering about in their sealish way, which was a nice farewell bonus. After a yummy seafood lunch a few miles away at the bay, we got back in the van and headed south to Gilchrist, which would be our home base for three nights as we explored Crater Lake and the Newberry caldera.

The cabin we rented was huge and nice, with foosball, ping pong, a pool table (under the ping pong table top), and no internet or cable (a plus in my book). We roasted marshmallows one night and I read aloud to the family each night as is our habit generally. It was a great home base, and I’d love to go back should I visit the area again (and would gladly recommend it to anybody planning a similar vacation).

Crater Lake was breathtaking. The kids grew weary of hiking and generally had kind of a crummy attitude about the lake itself, but it was really beautiful. The trees in this part of the country are a lot different than what I’ve grown up with (not only the bright Ponderosa pines, but the huge pointed pines in general, and the vastness of the forests we drove through), so the short hikes were like seeing nature afresh for me.

The lake itself is so blue that it looks fake, and even in July, you see snow pack a foot or more deep (which the kids did like sort of skating around on). This is a place that makes me wish I were a better photographer, that I knew how to edit my pitiful little phone snaps to bring out the vibrancy of what I saw with my eyes, which has been lost in translation in the photos below.

This takes us through Monday. On Tuesday, July 12, we drove north from our cabin to explore the Newberry volcano and associated parks. First, we went to a lava tube — a cave that in this case was about a mile long carved out by a lava flow whose exterior cooled more rapidly than its interior, so that as the hot lava continues flowing and the exterior stops flowing, a hollow is formed. Although there are restrictions on who can enter the cave because of a fungus that can be spread by people and that hurts bats who live in the cave, we saw no bats. Mostly it was a long, chilly walk in the dark. That undersells it a bit, I suppose. It was neat to see, and to imagine the elemental forces that worked to create such a wonder, but as caves go, there wasn’t much in the way of scenery: A few places where there were pencil-thin stalactites, pits in the ground formed presumably by dripping moisture, and some neat narrowing and widening of the cave, but not as magnificent in terms of scenery as, say Luray Caverns in Virginia. L pouted through the whole walk, claiming that when she saw cracks in the ceiling, she was afraid it would collapse and we would die.

Next we went to a basalt flow nearby, which was neat. After a picnic by the basalt flow, we drove into the Newberry caldera itself, to one of the two lakes contained within. We rowed a sort of excruciatingly and unexpectedly long 35 minutes across to the other side of the lake to try out the hot springs, some of which were very hot indeed. There were a few other people there, but not so many as you might have expected. We tested out some of the little holes dug out already and dug one of our own into the pebbles that formed the beach. I was amazed at how cold the clear blue/green water was even right up to the shore in contrast to how very hot some of the springs were just 3 or 4 feet deeper into the land. The kids liked this a lot. I may have gotten into trouble for farting in one of the springs and blaming the bubbles and the sulfurous smell on the springs themselves.

After a tough row back across the lake into the wind, we drove up to the rim of the caldera, which afforded us beautiful views of the surrounding forest, both lakes in the volcano, and an obsidian flow on one of the interior faces of the volcano.

After viewing the Newberry caldera from its rim, we made the sort of treacherous drive back down and went to an obsidian flow. This was one of the highlights of the day for me, as I imagined a 100-foot wall of lava advancing inch by inch and cooling to leave behind porous pumice and glassy obsidian. A path snakes through the rocks, and it was fun to spot huge chunks of the shiny black rock. L started looking for rocks that would make neat little stone chairs, and she reports this as one of the highlights for her as well. At one point I picked up what looked like a chunk of regular old pumice, but it turned out to be a darker, sharper type, and for the pleasure of looking like a strongman who could hoist a big rock over his head, I bled a lot from one of my palms for the remainder of the visit.

The obsidian flow seemed like the landscape of a dead planet but for the occasional little tree or splash of wildflowers here or there, and the seas of trees flanking the flow. My photos don’t do the site justice.

Wiped out after a very full day, we stopped at a great Mexican place in La Pine on the way back to our cabin and then retired for the evening in our usual fashion, prepared to head back north to Corvallis the next day.

We drove to Corvallis to a soundtrack of Mumford and Sons and the Milk Carton Kids and then hung around at A’s house for a while before hitting the riverfront and then the town for dinner followed by beer (for the grownups) and corn hole on the rooftop of a bar. On Thursday morning, we hit a rock shop in Corvallis to get some souvenirs and then a book store just because before grabbing a yummy vegetarian lunch at Nearly Normal and driving to the Columbia River Gorge, where we parked and hiked to 5 or 6 waterfalls.

We wrapped up our waterfall tour (several falls not pictured above) with ice cream cones and a drive back to Portland, where we relaxed a bit and ordered in some pizza before sending Ashley home on a shuttle and going to bed to travel home in the morning.

Although L had flown before when she was 8 or 9 months old, neither kid had really flown before, so this was sort of a landmark trip for them. They enjoyed the flights and the train ride between terminals at our connection home at DFW. In addition to the many miles we traveled by air, we drove 991 miles in a rented van as we toured the eastern third or so of Oregon. It was a great trip, affording us the opportunity to see many things very very different from what we’re accustomed to seeing in our day-to-day lives.

Crafty Bastard Brewery

Occasionally over the last few years, I’ve gone to a co-working space near downtown to work mostly by myself. Although it’s sort of a co-working space and sort of a community technology center, I seldom run into people there, and it amuses me to co-work alone. When I go, it’s not for the social angle, though. It’s usually because the kids are home for the summer and have a bunch of other kids running in and out of the house, which makes it hard for me to focus. Every once in a while it’s because my internet fails. Sometimes it’s partially because I’m craving a sandwich from Holly’s Corner, which is a short walk from the facility.

In the last year or so, I’ve gone a lot less frequently, and a craft brew pub has opened up across the street in the mean time. The other day, I knocked off work a little early to stop by and see the place, hoping to get a growler filled. The Crafty Bastard is a neat place. I always feel self-conscious about taking photos, so I didn’t get shots of the big local photos framed for sale on the walls. I didn’t get photos of the I’d guess 4-story ceiling. I also didn’t snap any pictures of the barrels and kegs and buckets lining some of the walls in various states of the brewing process. I did quickly snap a shot of the unassuming line of taps and the beer list.

They brew their own beer and bill themselves as a nanobrewery. I wasn’t able to get a growler filled because if they poured out growlers full, they’d run out of stock too fast. Items on the board with a pink dot are brewed in-house, and the others are contributed by local brewers (I read this somewhere but can’t now find the reference).

I tried the Tessellation IPA in spite of the mention of notes of mango (I don’t generally like mango). Only after ordering this one did I see the Samoa Cookie beer, which seemed weird and interesting. So I had one of those too. I liked them both but preferred the Samoa to the other. I quipped that they should garnish the beer with one of the namesake cookies, and the bar tender said that when they premiered the beer, they put a box of Samoas on each table.

This is definitely a hipster bar. As the photo suggests, there’s kind of a DIY vibe, and one of the bar tenders changed the vinyl record he was playing while I was there. There were tattoos and beards and pomaded hair, and I felt very much out of place as definitely the squarest person in the room. At 4:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, it wasn’t very crowded, though, and that’s always a selling point for me, though it was 4:00 on a Wednesday, and I’ll bet that it hops a little more during the more traditional heavy drinking hours.

Fishing

For my birthday this year, M got me a guided fly fishing trip. I had gone on a guided trip on a work trip in Utah a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I own some fly fishing gear but don’t really know what to do with it, or where to go with it, and I think I need a couple of guided experiences would help me get a better understanding. Fly fishing seems to be a lot more technical and require more arcane knowledge than just dropping a cricket or worm into a pond and pulling in bluegills. So having this guided experience was a real treat.

It was well below freezing, so it wasn’t always the absolute most physically comfortable experience. We didn’t have much luck with flies rods (too cold for the fish to be hungry, maybe? surely that, rather than incompetence on the part of the fishermen, was the cause), so we wound up using spinners to try to get reaction strikes. I landed one fish and had a few more on the line but failed to land them. Dad landed two or three, I think. In spite of the cold, it was fun, and I’m eager to get back out there sometime and see if I can catch a few fish on flies.

Hot Dog Cheese Man

In trying to train Maisy to do things like recognize her name and please please to stop trying to tear my ears off my head with her fangs, I’ve begun giving her little bits of hot dog and cheese. When we go on a walk, I keep a few in my left hand and vainly insist “heel! heel!” every few steps to try to get her to walk beside me and to my left. When she manages to do it, I give her a treat. If she continues to walk beside me, I dribble treats to her periodically to make it a rewarding behavior. I also use hot dogs and cheese to work on things like “sit” and “down” and “stay” and “maul” with her.

Because I work from home and my family is at work and school for much of the day, I lead sort of a solitary daytime life, and so naturally I talk to the dog a lot. I decline to confirm suspicions that I carry on full conversations with her as if she were a human being, supplying both sides of the conversation. I will confirm that for the humorous benefit of the children, I will sometimes say things aloud as if from the dog’s perspective. For example, if she’s trying to tear my ears off, I might use a goofy voice to say something like “I can’t help myself because they’re just so tasty, like delectable pink little pork rinds nom nom nom.”

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was saying something in my “I am a ridiculous animal” voice and speaking from the dog’s perspective about myself. I imagined that the dog’s notion of who I am is that I am the thing that is fun to chew on and drag along by a leash and that supplies hot dogs and cheese, so I had her say something like “Hot Dog Cheese Man is going to take me outside now.” And from then on, I’ve taken on the nickname “Hot Dog Cheese Man.” I refer to myself by that name (mostly when dealing with the dog), and the kids have picked it up some too. It’s a source of great mirth within the family.

My daughter lost her last baby tooth the other night and left us a note with it (she knows we’re the Tooth Fairy) in which I make an appearance as Hot Dog Cheese Man.

In all things pertaining to naming in our household, this rates very highly for me, third perhaps to Maisy’s long silly name and the name Cheesyfarts McButterpants, which I made up for a reason I’ve since forgotten but which still comes up from time to time.

Maisy Update

We’ve had Maisy for a little over a month now, and it’s been a pretty mixed experience for us. Shortly after we got Maisy, M got a job outside the home after years without one, and in retrospect, we should probably have waited and made one major life change at a time.

On the whole, Maisy is a good dog. She’s sweet and playful, and it’s mostly worth the bruises and scratches and bite marks I persistently sport now. Her paws may have scratched up our nice wood floors, but at least she’s only destroyed small parts of a few pieces of furniture, a bunch of toys, and most recently her nice soft bed.

She’s actually coming along a bit in her training. I started an obedience class with her this week. We had already been working on her learning her name and “sit,” and now we’re working on a couple of other commands. She’s starting to grok “down,” but I’m less optimistic about her understanding a few of the other commands any time soon.

In spite of the havoc she has wrought in our routines and on our home, I’m enjoying her. I feel like I spend more time giving her attention now than I do my kids, and I’m eager for that to taper off as she continues to become integrated into our lives (and us into hers), but she’s enriched my life a bit, if perhaps not yet as much as she has complicated it.

Twin Peaks

I guess I lived a pretty sheltered life as a kid. I wasn’t really allowed to watch MTV (though sometimes I did), and there were many shows that my mother would say were garbage that I wasn’t allowed to watch. I spent my after-school afternoons with the casts of Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, M*A*S*H, and Gilligan’s Island. MacGuyver was kosher, and of course Columbo and Matlock were staples. It’s not that I wasn’t allowed to watch a great lot of television — I spent most Saturday mornings of my childhood in front of the television from 6 or 7 in the morning until lunchtime — but the television I could watch without getting into trouble or having to sneak around was pretty vanilla. Twin Peaks was not on the list of approved shows.

I sort of like David Lynch’s movies. I’m a fan of weird, up to a point, and his movies bump right up against and sometimes go just a hair past that point, so his movies tend to appeal to me. Some time back, I decided to give Twin Peaks a try, and I don’t think I made it all the way through the first episode; if I did, I didn’t make it very far into the second. It seemed so very overwrought, so melodramatic, so 90s.

Having gotten wind in the past year or so that the show was coming back with Lynch still at the helm, I thought I’d try the show again. Laura Palmer’s screaming mother in that first episode very nearly turned me off again. The distraught principal did too. But then there was Kyle MacLachlan’s delightul character and the beginnings of a few hints of the sort of weirdness I find appealing. I was lukewarm through the first half of the first season, and at some point I told my wife that I’d like it more if it were about 40% more weird.

Then it crescendoed into super duper weirdness over the next 15 or so episodes, to the point that during an 8 – 10 minute part of the final episode that I watched while very very tired that was visually arresting and really pretty interesting, I wound up wishing Lynch would sort of get on with it. As the episodes kept coming, I commented to my wife a time or two that I could hardly believe that they had played the show on prime time television and found an audience for it, so far from my notion of the mainstream taste it seemed. Still, it was neat, and I liked a lot of the weirdness.

My main problem with the show was that watching it 25 years after its creation, I had difficulty understanding whether the things that seemed overwrought and bad about it were in fact overwrought and bad or whether that’s just what television was like in 1990. Or, if they were overwrought and bad and sometimes sentimental and saccharine, were they that way in earnest (for the period) or was Lynch doing something meta with the conventions of television?At the distance of 25 years, I’m really just not at all sure.

As is pretty normal for me, I expended just about as much energy thinking about my thinking about watching the show as I expended watching the show, which is generally pretty satisfying to me but was perhaps less so than usual in this case because I partially suspect that some of the badness was just period badness and not cleverness.

At any rate, I now have Twin Peaks under my belt, and if the redux does materialize, I’ll likely watch it with interest.

The Hoff

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I took my daughter to the library this afternoon and idly wandered the shelves (our branch is small) while she made her selections. I couldn’t help noticing this little batch of books. Observe the gentleman pictured on the spine of the middle book of the Moon books (which I believe is titled Kings of the North). That’s a portrait of David Hasselhoff, right? Is there anything the man can’t do?