One week left in Portland and then off to Madison, Wisconsin!
One advantage to preparing to move for the second time in less than one year is that if you didn’t unpack all your boxes the first time, there is less packing to do. I found my old Nikon in one of those boxes, made it feel pretty with a new battery and was ready to go. I also loaded it with redscale Lomo film, which in hindsight was not the best film choice to determine if the camera was working properly. Think the film may have been rolled inside out? Not sure if that’s possible or if an image could be captured in that manner, but something strange happened… It could have also just been me.
Spent some low tide time at the coast last weekend. I performed very poorly at spotting the shows. Thanks to everyone else for getting some clams and letting me join in the eating. T-shirt ideas- “I clam, therefore I am.” and “My friends only see me at high tide.”
Well, we moved to Oregon! I don’t know many people here and I’ve already taken photos of the houses of the people I do know, so I thought I’d write about some of what we are seeing and doing out here. I also still haven’t had my broken lens repaired so the photos were all taken with either a Lomo or my camera phone. Living in Portland allows you to stumble out your front door and into the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest with a minimum amount of hassle. It is quite a change to leave the house, not have to fight insane traffic, and quickly arrive somewhere wonderful.
We recently took a drive up to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula for some camping and sightseeing. From Portland, it is about a five hour drive up I-5 and then over to 101. Entering Aberdeen, WA there is a Kurt Cobain tribute sign greeting visitors stating “Welcome to Aberdeen- Come As You Are.” We drove through, passing a teen halfway house outside of which a young pregnant woman was smoking a cigarette with a group of friends. Aberdeen was also once known as the “Hellhole of the Pacific” and at various times in the past had an extremely high per capita murder rate.
Leaving Aberdeen quickly behind, you are greeted by towering forests, braided rivers, lakes and eventually the coast. The Peninsula is home to five Indian nations: the Quileute, Makah, Ozette, Hoh, and Quinault, each holding land that represents a small portion of their former territories. Also contained on the Peninsula is the Olympic National Park (designated in 1938) that includes sections of the coastline and the mountainous interior. The coast contains several wildlife refuge and wilderness areas and is protected by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
On the way up we stopped on the side of the road to buy firewood for our highly anticipated night of camping for the first time in many years. While the wood was being loaded up, a man who was the parked across the road came over and introduced himself as Tony and shook my hand. I told him my name and he said, “You ladies camping tonight?” “I think we are,” I responded not wanting to give away too much information to a complete stranger. He had a huge grin, was about 6’4″ and very large. “Nice earrings!,” he enthused while looking directly at my chest. And before I could respond, he flung his arms wide and said, “Gimme a hug!” leaning towards me. I breast blocked with my right arm and gave him a pat on the back with my left hand while giggling. Priscilla came back to the vehicle and asked, “Do you have a dollar?” I turned my back to my hugger, gave her the dollar and told her that I had a forced hug the jolly big man.
We secured one of the last spots at a beach campground that said “Full.” It’s always best to check! We were one of the few tent campers, the remainders bing RVs and one hippy van. After setting up camp we walked along the beach and witnessed the flight of thousands of sea birds. For over thirty minutes a dark line of birds flew south along the coast. As we arrived back at the campground, people were surf fishing with the setting sun.
It was soon revealed that our wood was not in fact dry enough for catching fire. Many attempts resulted in brief flames followed by choking smoke. So we sat in the dark in our camp chairs, looking out to sea, while all around us our fellow campers were warming themselves around indecently sized campfires. I had a short-lived minor freakout when I was convinced all the RVers would turn into vampires and get us in the night. P. said they were not vampires, just retired folk, and that we would be fine. Getting zipped up in my sleeping bag, I quickly remembered that camping can be quite cold even in summer and inevitably uncomfortable, which can push nonsensical thoughts of vampires right out of your mind. Unable to fall asleep, I left the tent and took a walk around the campground. A thin elderly man rode past on a bicycle, gravel from the road popping in the tire spokes, while the stars stretched the sky and surf fishing suits hung drying on the backs of RVs. Night came on with waves hitting the coast, lowered voices around dying campfires and far above the sound of huge engined jets flying from Seattle out over the Pacific.
I was up early (having survived the night!) and walked the beach watching the fishermen casting out in the blue dawn light. Back at camp I made ramen and coffee and had a nice chat with a woman who lives in Sequim, a town on the northeastern side of the peninsula. She and her husband were retired, having taught school for many years on the western coast of Alaska, 400 air miles from Anchorage. She said the accelerated pace of retirees buying homes in their town dropped off after the economy went bust, some people having lost all savings, so buying a retirement home in a small community was no longer an option. She suggested we check out Port Townsend on the east side if we had the time. I also had another lively morning chat with a woman about the cleaning of the bathroom facilities and her daily morning diuretic.
We broke camp and drove into the Hoh Rain Forest, which receives 12 to 14 FEET of rain a year. It is a fairyland of mosses, ferns and lichen. Big leaf maple were draped in spikemoss, the forest sluiced in green, bearded and shaggy. There were even several sightings of fairy barf lichen.
We continued north on 101 and lunched in the town of Forks, “famous” for being the shooting location of the Twilight movies. Maybe my vampire fears were not so far fetched after all… There were Twilight vampire tours and many of the local businesses had managed to work the word “Twilight” into their names, regardless of the service or product being offered.
Later in the day we walked the coast at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, where bald eagles flew overhead, their beaks massive and bright yellow and Vancouver Island rose in the distance.
We stopped for the night at Port Townsend, located on the Quimper Peninsula, at the suggestion of the woman at the campground. Victorian houses topped with widow walks flanked the hillsides overlooking the water. Walking along the water to the historic downtown area, we glimpsed Mt. Rainier snowy in the distance. We were thirsty and in need a a drinking establishment. A white bearded man walked past wearing a red t-shirt that exhorted “Save the Ales!” I thought he would know. “Excuse me, can I ask you a quick question?” I said catching up to him on the sidewalk. “You can ask me a long one if you’d like. I’m not in a hurry,” he cheerfully replied. He told us we had just passed his favorite bar “Sirens.” We chatted a bit and he told us he’d grown up in Portland but had been in Washington for some time and enjoyed his life there.
In Sirens, we were the most youngest patrons by decades and the older I get the more this kind of thing is extremely gratifying. We ordered drinks and sat outside on the wooden balcony. After P. had something wet from the sky land on her head, a concerned man at the next table told us we were sitting in a dangerous place for gull droppings. He had once seen a whole table of ladies get besmeared with white gull poop (they were intoxicated and found it hilarious), so we took his suggestion and moved under one of the umbrellas.
Later as the waitress brought us the local Hood Canal pan fried oysters (PFO to the locals), the gulls lifted off a nearby roof and starting crying and raising a ruckus flying in all directions but staying grouped together. “Watch for the eagle,” the waitress said as she put the food down. “There is always an eagle when this starts,” and sure enough a bald eagle flew into the grouping of gulls, slashing through, talons outstretched and then silently flying away. “Always an eagle,” she said. I overheard from conversations around us that gulls nest on the rooftops and the eagles sometimes go for the easy kill if they can get through the commotion.
We watched a kingfisher hunting from a pier below us and a harbor seal swam past heading in the direction of Canada. The man who had given us directions to the bar followed shortly after the seal, rowing a dinghy out to his anchored sailboat in the bay. When we left all the inside tables were occupied and a quartet of fiddles and guitars was playing celtic inspired music.
In the morning driving to get coffee, we saw an aggressive deer chase along the road. On the way back there were three adult deer and two bambis crossing the road. We left the town and made our way down the east side along 101 and back home. I’m excited to return to the peninsula for more exploring and some backcountry camping in the future.
Sharing some photos from back in March of this year. Spent some time in Louisiana and had the misadventure of having one of my lenses malfunction. Fortunately, it gave me the chance to rent a fisheye lens and have some fun. One of the drawbacks of having such a wide lens and using available light was that it was difficult to avoid having my shadow in the photos. Also realized after looking at the night shots (real blurry!) that a tripod sure would have come in handy. All the daytime photos were taken in New Iberia and the night shots are from Lafayette. Thanks to Kristie for walking around at night with me.
More Louisana house pics can be seen here.
Thank you to Scott for giving me time on a foggy Monday morning. Scott is apprenticing in the art of building wooden boats at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center located in Sausalito. Scott also rents space in a workshop a few blocks down where he and a friend are building a wooden dory skiff that they hope to sell when complete.
He lives on the Famiglia Santa, which is anchored in Richardson Bay. This boat was an operational fishing boat from 1926- 2006. It was refashioned shortly thereafter to include living quarters. We set off at low tide crossing the walkway over mud flats and barnacle-laden pillars. Scott rowed us out to his home in what I suspect is actually a one-person rowboat. After a series of awkward movements involving us getting our legs untangled, we were underway. A harbor seal followed us to the main boat while coots and a grebe continued about their watery business. A metal fishing boat motored farther offshore, a man in a red slicker waving. I later saw three of these boats lined up cranking in their nets just off the coast. Tourists gathered in clumps taking pictures, the netted fish glinting in the dull light, while seals and gulls surrounded the boats waiting for lost fish.
There is no real electricity on the boat although there is a solar panel that supplies energy for small mounted lamps in the “living room.” A lack of electricity means no refrigeration so food on the boat must be nonperishable. There is a burner run on propane that is used to cook meals and also doubles as a heater when a terra cotta pot is put over the flame. Coffee, whiskey and canned smoked oysters were favorite food and drink items.
We sat in the living room with light from the rippling water reflected onto the ceiling above, all calm except for the barking of seals congregated farther south. Scott said that often he sits here and sees pelicans dive-bombing for fish. He has never seen a shark but once saw a dolphin approach the boat. With no computer or internet, Scott writes letters, draws and reads. Everything on the boat is compactness and simplicity. Every item has its place as there is no room for the disorderly. Maps and fishing rods find their space lashed to the ceiling while canvas bags attached to the walls hold and conceal smaller items. Scott will most likely return to his hometown of New Orleans when he has completed his apprenticeship in May. All the photos from that morning can be viewed at Scott’s Living Space.
On the final day of my most recent trip home, I visited what quickly became one of my favorite museums the Ogden. After breakfast and the obligatory last morning of vacation stop at Lafitte’s; Kristie, Jason and I headed over. The museum displays work from self-taught artists along with art and photography from well known, formally trained Southern artists. While the skies darkened and the rain began, we slowly rambled through the galleries, losing and finding one another, reconnecting with whispers and suggestions. Why we were whispering I don’t know since there were only two other people in the museum, but there’s something hushing about seeing art that takes you beyond your own place and time. Each room presented a range of subjects including rural life, slavery, race relations, sexuality, religion and nature. Check out Kristie’s blog entry about photographer Jack Spenser, whose works were on display that day.
One of the exhibits I found most interesting was the “Self-taught, Outsider, and Visionary Art from the collections of Alexa Kleinbard and Jim Roche.” It contained paintings, sculptures, wood carvings and found art.
All the photos from that day can be seen here.