Friday, June 29, 2012

Kootenay summit!

Well, I managed to do it again - Creston to Kootenay summit in three and a half hours. Time for a much deserved break!

The adventure of memories

I'm in the process of fine-tuning boxes of keepsakes that were given to me after my dad died and maternal grandma died.  Since I had a house with ample storage space, I stored them.  Now I need to get them into a little car to move out of Corvallis.  I'm down to 6 boxes which is do-able. I've got high hopes of archiving for my nephew and distant relatives in Missouri and elsewhere, but I suspect it is a tall order at this time of my life. I have letters in these boxes written in the late 1800s!

I've also found precious letters from friends that I've since contacted (via email and facebook) and asked if they want me to send them back to them or what to do with them???  There is so much personal history in addition to a intimate description of the place and time in their lives (and mine), I find them valuable myself.  Some want me to send them - others want me to do whatever I want - and one friend wants to get together when we are in our 80's and read our letters to one another!  So some are being kept, some into the recycling after being read and others moving back to their writers.  I like the old stamps and postmarks and finding pictures of shared times I've forgotten that the writers lovingly had slipped in with their letter.

I've contacted places to send some of the artifacts I've stored and they want them for their archives.  Pretty cool that I can contribute materials published in the 1940's and send them back to people who would really appreciate them.  Some of the materials are already in google, open book, and university archives - already digitized and ready for some researcher to find and explore them.

I'm digitizing photographs as well, but some I can't bear to discard - so these keepsakes pictured before are going to my nephew - who probably has a place in his heart to see them.  There is nothing like holding the "real thing" in your hands.  An adventure of memories that he doesn't even know about.

My grandpa on my dad's side served in the United States Navy from 1944 to 1945
He was a cook.

He served on the USS South Dakota and was in Tokyo Bay for the signing of Japanese surrender

He was a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and when I was at his funeral service he received a salute and I was given a flag to honor him.  He also ran a gas service station that he had to leave in the hands of a capable manager while he was overseas.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

That's more like it

Today went a lot quicker than yesterday - 127km to Creston knocked off before lunchtime. I still felt good, but thought better of attempting the pass this afternoon. Better to start with fresh legs when you've got 1000m of elevation gain in 30km ahead of you!
Now I'm facing a different challenge - eating spaghetti with a spoon!  I didn't think to pack a fork....
- mark.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Slow day on the road

I didn't run into headwinds riding from Calgary to Banff this trip (unlike last time), but today made up for it. 117km into headwinds, and my legs are tired! It sure can be frustrating when you're pedalling along on the flats, but you're only going 12km/hr...but at least the rain stopped.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The best thing about riding through B.C. is stopping at the hot springs for a soak - just what you need after a rainy night camping!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The old stompin' grounds

I find myself back in Calgary for a few days while I attend to the sad business of selling my 4runner. Ciel's all the way down in Oregon, and I miss her terribly...
But at least I can ride though Nose Hill park in the sunshine and visit some friends.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Restoration - less expensive than extinction

I had a great time today walking around Sellwood, Westmoreland and the Johnson Creek Watershed, three communities about five miles from downtown Portland.  The Springwater Corridor links downtown pdx to this area if I had a bike with me or a lot of time to walk, but instead I got there by taking the city bus 70.  I photographed  lots of pretty old-growth timber homes built around the early 1900's mixed in with 1950 ranch-style homes.
Sellwood and Westmoreland Houses
The bicycles have routes on the streets where the streetcars used to run, hopefully someday soon, there can be more bicycle dedicated routes without competition from automobiles.  I am a proponent of bicycle boulevards and Portland has a plan for the bicycle to only grow in popularity as a major  way for people to transport themselves.
Bicycle Normalcy in Portland
There is so much to investigate and explore.  I found a really neat natural area called Crystal Springs and Johnson Park where I watched Heron fishing for crawdads.  The Army Corp of Engineers, the City of Portland and residents are working on a project to enhance the stream for passage of wild salmon. Crystal Springs originates from a spring and it flows into the Johnson River at Johnson Park.
This is where Heron was working for it's meal.  I only can see good from these sorts of projects.  It gives me hope for the human species.  Heron appreciates it too, it needs healthy places to live too.  And Heron's new refurbished home and improved stream passage for Coho, Chinook and Steelhead costs only 1.5 million.  
It's a lot less than extinction, and with Portland's Bicycle Plan for 2030 and all the hard work of citizens that want a livable city now and for the future.  Restoration of city streets to bicycle boulevards is a gain for us too in reversing the destructive habitat and landscape changes made over the past 200 years.  Less cars mean less oil coming off of the city streets in the stream run-off and less CO2 to contribute to our warming planet.

I want to share with you an essay written by Kim Stafford about being an Oregon Patriot in Tough Times.  It gives words to how many a life-long Oregonians feel,  and me, a soon-to-be non-transplant from Seattle feels about living in Oregon.  Take the time to read it.  Its moving and eloquent and descriptive of Oregon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Moods of the river

Rainy and mistySunny and happy
Wintery and snowy

Nice place where my mom lives.
I had a dream last night that the river got "stopped up" and quit flowing as well, got smooth and then all of a sudden a huge wall of water filled the river back up.
The river is a major feature here, running into my dreams.

Friday, June 15, 2012

In 78 days where will you be?

The plan right now is to attend Burning Man which is held annually at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.  This is where we went about a month ago to be in the path of the annular eclipse.

Burning Man recently received confirmation of their special use permit from the BLM 
Black Rock City in 2011.  Photo from Will Roger and article in the San Francisco Bay Guardian 

Who is going to join us?  Give or take a couple thousand on any given day, approximately 58,000 people are planning to participate from all over the world.  It's a population "challenge" for the organization, with lots of growing pains. I read in the San Francisco Bay Guardian article linked above that  one of the founders of Burning Man said he hopes that someday the population of Black Rock City can grow to 100,000.

Considering the planet's human population stands at over SEVEN BILLION, we are a very select group of people who have the opportunity to attend this magnificent art and cultural event. Now we are needing to spend some time thinking and reflecting on how we are going to contribute, because this event is all about participation and involvement in community.  Looking forward "to the burn" as they say...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Can we apply for 2032?

Since we travelled about 10,000 miles from Canada to go visit hotsprings in Australia and New Zealand, we figured we could make the 26 mile trek from North Bend, WA to get to Goldmyer.  Of course we weren't disappointed. Not only did we have one of the first sunny days in weeks to walk in, we went on a weekday to camp overnight to hopefully enjoy the springs without a full capacity. You must be patient to get through on the phone line to make reservations and then listen to the lengthy guidelines about the wilderness values and general hotspring etiquette, but once that is accomplished, the rest of the journey is relatively simple.
Of course the reason why the place remains so special is that it's very carefully managed by a non-profit, Northwest Wilderness Programs, Inc that was set up to protect the hotsprings and the 20 acres surrounding it.  
Northwest Wilderness Programs  is
a non-profit organization whose  goal is
the preservation of  Goldmyer  Hot
Springs. 95% of all funds  received  are 
used for charitable purposes. Information 
regarding NWWP is available from the 
Washington Secretary of State. With the 
exception of the Goldmyer  property
manager and part-time office help, the 
staff and work force of Northwest 
Wilderness Programs is a  completely 
volunteer organization. We receive  no 
compensation  for our efforts except the 
enjoyment of the Goldmyer property and 
the fulfillment  that comes with the 
efforts of attaining a worthwhile goal

After checking in with one of the caretakers and signing a liability release we found a place to camp near this pelton wheel.  It was installed to power the resort that operated on the land in the 1930's by Bill Morrow, whose family later donated the land to the current land stewards.  
This rock must have sat here in this creek for thousands of years, witnessed by the indigenous people before European American explorers.  All this land was ceded to the United States by the indigenous people in the Point of Elliott Treaty in 1855.  Prior to that the indigenous people fought "the indian wars".  The Goldmyer area was staked as a patented mining claim for the hot water in the early 1900s.  He ran a lodge for miners and loggers and later probably tourists as it became more well known.  

More information about Mr. Goldmyer is on this excellent website about the middle fork giants.  According to that website,  Burlington Northern Railroad came into possession of the land before the third owner bought it.
The third owner, Bill Morrow who put in the pelton wheel had people coming up on the middle fork railway, the same line that we travelled by foot on the way back down to the road.  At that time, the springs had tubs carved out of cedar logs and apparently he charged 35 cents per soak.  He also provided services to people living with TB.   Apparently the lodge burned down in the 1960's and the place went to hell.
Thanks so much to the dedicated people who work so much to steward this property.  Without you, it would be much more difficult to enjoy the beautiful setting - 20 people a day to visit this place at $15/head.  Nobody is making any money on this deal.  And the 800+ year old trees get to keep standing. Oh, yes.  And can we apply to work as caretakers for the summer of 2032?  If you like these pictures, you can look at more here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Not-so-Rapid Transit

On Tuesday, June 5, we were on a bike ride around Corvallis when I realized that the sun was out, so we went back to Becky's house to watch something we won't see again - the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. Using the solar-filtered binoculars gave the clearest view, but with the telescope (with solar filter of course - don't want any burned retinas or cameras) we got to take some pictures. Lots of people came over for a look too, mostly at Ciel's invitation. She wanted to turn this into a community event!

Venus looked like a little dot in front of the sun, so Ciel said "Venus is really small"! When I told her it's almost as big as the earth, she said "the sun is really big"! I worked out later that because Venus is closer to us than the sun, it looks bigger than it would if it were the same distance as the sun - by about a factor of 3! Venus is about 108 million km from the sun, and we're about 150 million km from the sun, so Venus would be less than 50 million km from us during the transit. That little dot would be a lot littler if Venus were right on the surface of the sun! Of course, it wouldn't last long there, at 5700K...


edit: The picture above was taken with a webcam adapted to the eyepiece of my little 70mm refractor - the other dark blob near the bottom of the sun's image is probably just a speck of dust on the sensor or something. I certainly didn't get a shot as good as this!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Discovery in a Place of My Refuge

Today Mark and I went up to Breitenbush Hotsprings with our friend Becky so she didn't have to go to work.  We dropped her off to get maximum soak time and then we drove back a little ways to make the first of two discoveries early in the day.  It has been my experience that visiting Breitenbush has always led to some type discovery, sometimes intentional, sometimes not.  Sometime inside discovery and change or not.

I've also met wonderful people over the years and a few have developed into friendships.  We met a really nice artist who was so humble and creates wonderful paintings using encaustic mediums and colors. So many interesting people there if choose to be open to their sharing and experiences.  Sometimes I like going there just for the quiet and prefer to soak solitare with the pool all to myself.  Lately an (almost) impossible opportunity which I'll share later about.

For years I had known about the lower Breitenbush springs but had never taken the time to visit them because the Breitenbush Community is so welcoming.  So we decided to go since it's been in my backyard for the past decade and I'm planning on moving out of Oregon.  The hike to the lower springs was really beautiful and well worth the trip.

Unfortunately, from what I understand, visitors can never be sure what they are going to get when they arrive at the actual hotspring.  A party of beer drinking 20-somethings would not do it for me, nor a bunch of people unfriendly or unwelcoming.  I know what to expect when I pay my day-use fee at Breitenbush "proper".

The lower springs are self-managed and unfortunately some people are pigs and it usually is used as a party place, another reason I was never really interested in visiting.  I later learned reading a 1930 newspaper article that there was an entire resort at that location once upon a time.  I think it's a spring that is on a private inholding because if the forest service had anything to do with it I think it wouldn't remain self-managed, such as the implementation of a fee and custodian at Terwilliger (Cougar) down south.
Skiff's Breitenbush Hot Springs, or lower Breitenbush 1962, now it's called the Russian Pool 
Presumably because there are a lot of people of Russian descent that use it - today we had it all to ourselves
I got these old photos from the Oregon Historic Photograph Collections.
Breitenbush Hotsprings Lodge in 1962
The forest continues to preside over it all.  A very healing forest there.
A discovery today at upper Breitenbush.  Maybe a future pool for the communities future development plan.
We had a great day, but there is so many people who want to visit there now.  However, if you ever get the urge to check it out you really should.  It's a place of my refuge ever since I first visited.  I strongly recommend making a reservation at Breitenbush (and make sure you buy lunch or dinner because the food is quite good) or if you don't want to pay anything, just stop at the pullout about a 1/2 km before the Breitenbush Community and hike on down to the lower springs.  Just make sure to bring a few beer cans back with you. 

The Breitenbush geothermal area has been a giver of warmth for thousands of years, it is obviously a very spiritual place to many many people and has been for thousands of years. The European white guys didn't discover it until the late 1800's.  Thank you to the community of Breitenbush for maintaining it for future generations and keeping it accessible for people to visit. Thanks to all the people who have defended the forest there from being cut down in the valley corridor to allow us to walk through old growth and marvel. Thankfully a company in the hotel industry will never have an opportunity to purchase it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

6am walking the dogs

With the daylight coming early, I'm up early with the dogs

Corvallis Little Free Library    

Watching the homeless guys "canning" after all the Saturday nite partying