Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 31 July 2009

Mrs. Phred Calls a Halt

La Grande, Oregon

Mrs. Phred wants to see the Hell's Canyon scenic loop here in eastern Oregon. We checked into the Eagle Hot Lake RV Park and will take the Toyota on the 200 mile loop in the morning.

The drive here along the north bank of the Columbia River was very scenic.
We've struck out with booking raft trips so far. It's hot, hot hot and all the rivers and lakes are full of Oregonians looking for relief from the record temperatures. It kind of reminds me of the summer we visited London. Our hotel didn't have air-conditioning although it was very hot. Up here most of the homes are also not air conditioned.

We are warned to run the water here for several minutes to blow out the earwigs. I saw an earwig when I disconnected the water at the last place. My ear feels itchy. Maybe an earwig crawled in last night. They lay eggs in your ear that burrow into your brain to lay eggs..then the larvae eat their way out again...

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

White Salmon, Washington

The drive here was beautiful. We stopped in a lush forest and picked ripe red raspberries to put in our morning cereal. The road runs right along the banks of the Columbia River.

We're about 200 miles east of the Oregon Coast. The weather was about 50 degrees with very wet fog this morning. We're on the north bank of the Columbia River and the Toyota said it was 107 degrees Fahrenheit when we parked and made a quick run to buy cold white wine and replenish our cash.

This is a creek in Oregon where Lewis and Clark and their 31 men and Sacajawea and Lewis' dog are thought to have spent the winter of 1805-06.

The GPS is set for Mountain Home, Arkansas. We want to see our friends, Paul and Diane, and maybe play some doubles sets with the Mountain Home grandmothers league. Those grandmothers are looking better all the time. It might be an eyesight issue. We can also use Paul's pontoon boat on the big lake if Paul and Diane are too busy to join us some days. On our last visit I spayed three coats of good quality yellow paint on their self-constructed mansion-in-the-woods.

We visited Fort Clatsop in Astoria to see a reproduction of the building that Lewis and Clark built near the mouth of the Columbia to over-winter in their 1805-06 stay. It's surprisingly sophisticated. I checked the reproduction against the sketch in Merriwether Lewis' journal and they have it about right. I bought a book about their journey.

This is a picture of Captain Merriwether Lewis, putting on a new deerskin shoe. The Captain was shot in the butt on the return trip by a hunter with poor eyesight who took him for an elk.

Merriwether seem quite scientific for his time. He measures water temperature and air temperature to calculate the difference needed to fill the "hollows" with fog. He only lost one man out of forty on this incredible journey, from appendicitis.

We drove up to Oysterville on a peninsula in Southern Washington. It is a little historical town where most of the homes were built 40 to 60 years after Lewis and Clark came and went. There are huge piles of oyster shells everywhere.

In my childhood, the Tampa Road Department came along our street and dumped fresh shells on the road about twice a year. The shells were sharp and hard to walk on barefoot. The mosquito control trucks came by almost every night spaying a thick fog of insecticide and motor oil. We loved to chase the slow-moving trucks and cavort in the poisonous billowing smog. Eventually, they ran out of shells and paved the street. They paved paradise and made it a parking lot.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What We Lost

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria is the oldest European settlement west of the Mississippi River.

First we visited the Astoria Tower. It was built on a hilltop overlooking the little port of Astoria. The story that celebrates the Lewis and Clark expedition that arrived at the mouth of the wild Columbia River in 1805 is wrapped on the tower in word and mural. You would have to walk rapidly around the tower about 15 times to get the whole story. Our legs feel very rubbery after walking up the 160 stairs to the top of the tower.

We spent time in the Astoria Maritime Museum. The Columbia River is an unforgiving place to sail into. "Crossing the Bar" where the massive output of the Columbia meets the wild Pacific has done in thousands of ships and small boats. We watch a movie about the specialized river pilots and "bar" pilots that help the ships navigate in and out of the Columbia.

The early settlers here pretty much wiped out the fur-bearing creatures in a few years and turned to salmon fishing. The apparently inexhaustible supply of salmon led to the establishment of dozens of canneries. There are pictures in the museum of horses drawing in nets with 60,000 pounds of Chinook salmon in each net. Fat, healthy fish, averaging 50 pounds each.

The wild Columbia has been tamed into a series of placid lakes by 13 great hydro-electric dams. A few confused salmon and sturgeon make their way up specially constructed salmon runs around the dams. Sea Lions have discovered these runs and gorge themselves on the spawning salmon, often staring directly into video cameras.

We are near a factory that hunted whales for mink feed and fertilizer until the 1972 ban on whale killing was established. They used to make ladies corsets out of the baleen that whales use to filter plankton and pretty much hunted that species to extinction.

Back down in Trinidad, California the second growth redwoods are only about 100 years old and five feet in diameter. Everywhere you look you see 18 foot diameter stumps that were logged out as if we had a license to cut down or kill anything with commercial value.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Rafting Hell's Canyon

The Mouth of the Columbia River

I think I have just talked Mrs. Phred into a three-day raft trip on the Snake River though Hell's Canyon. We're waiting for a call back on availability from this outfitter . Just driving up the coast and looking at beautiful beaches and overlooks is beginning to pall. Some Class IV rapids and sleeping in tents at night might on the Snake river might liven things up. The trip begins about an hour west of Portland. We're waiting to hear if they can work us in.

This is the Columbia River. It's so big here that it has waves that break on the shore and sandy beaches.

We did a tour of Fort Stevens today. It was established to thwart the British in the event that they decided to enter the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. On the night of June 21, 1942, Fort Stevens saw its only action when a Japanese submarine (the I-25) fired 5.5 inch shells in the vicinity of the fort. The shelling caused no damage. The Fort Commander refused to allow return fire. The incident made Fort Stevens the only installation (in the Continental US) to be attacked by an enemy since the War of 1812. You could argue that the 9/11 incident was another attack on the continental US, if you feel that a handful of ignorant and mis-guided criminals deserve to be elevated to the serious category of "enemy".

Tomorrow we tour Astoria. They have a number of interesting looking museums and a 14 block river walk that we want to do. Just down the road is a portion of the Lewis and Clark trail that one can hike and imagine exploring an unknown continent.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

900 Tons of Rotting Tuna

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

It was sad when the great ship went down. It was 1976 and the Betty M. was fully laden with a cargo of 900 tons of fresh tuna. She capsized in the mouth of the Columbia River. Local residents still talk about the stench that lasted for months. The diving here involves 50 degree water temperatures and 10 to 30 foot visibility. I think I'll leave the SCUBA gear in the basement until we get back to Florida.

This is a picture of the Tillamook Naval Air Station back in 1943. The Navy dirigibles photographed her are only slightly shorter than the 800-foot Hindenburg.

One of Mrs. Phred's online friends came to visit. Her name is Laura. Mrs. Phred and Laura go to "Garibaldi days" and have excellent fried oysters for lunch. I stay home and do paperwork. I'm pleased to be able to load Laura up with fresh fish. She drove a long way to meet Mrs. Phred. Laura works in the Oregon mental hospital where "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was filmed starring Jack Nicolson. The book was written by Ken Kesey who got his big start from having his brains jarred loose by the CIA during the MKULTRA project, which involved slipping LSD to unwitting citizens. Kesey's fourth child, conceived with another Merry Prankster, was appropriately named "Sunshine"...
Today we took a three-cape scenic drive along the coast. We both had that deja vu feeling that we'd been here before...perhaps we had. The Tillamook Air Museum is not bad. They had some very nice WWII airplanes and airplane engines on display. My own C-124 engine was there. It was the largest airborne piston engine ever deployed. It was used on the B-36 as well....a radial seven with four rows...28 cylinders...what a hog. 4,500 cubic inches...four wonder we burned 10,000 gallons of high octane on a ten hour flight....about five gallons a mile...

The most lovely plane in the museum is a P-38 called the Tangerine.

I don't recognize it at first...light, flighty, lovely and bristling with 50-calibers. The engines rotate in opposite directions to cancel the effects of torque.

Lt. Ethell who flew one this made some kills. The people next to us gave us a plate of freshly boiled crab. It was good but it ruined our appetite for the sockeye salmon I had cooked so I made a sandwich spread from it with eggs, onions, mayonnaise and chipottle sauce. It made about seven healthy sandwiches.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the air museum was the building housing it. They claim it is the largest wooden building in the world. It's easy to believe. They built it to house Akron Class Navy rigid dirigibles during WWII. They built two, but one burned to the ground about 20 years ago. It had been filled with hundreds of tons of hay. The building that is left houses a bunch of stored boats and RVs in addition to the air museum.

Tomorrow we move on to the mouth of the Columbia where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805.
I think the WWII dirigibles were very useful for convoy duty.

Rotting tuna, Ken Kesey, P-38s, the Merry Pranksters, Chipottle sauce, Project MKULTRA, the CIA, WWII dirigibles, the Oregon coast capes, fresh all comes together right here in Tillamook. It's interesting that Lt Ethell's son, Jeff Ethell, wrote a book called "Warbirds of WWII" and crashed a restored P-38 and died in Tillamook in 1997. Apparently he lost an engine, failed to maintain a sufficient airspeed and destroyed himself and one of the last of these lovely airplanes in a flat spin.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Meeting Rocky on the Overlook

Brighton Beach Marina and RV Park, Oregon

We ran a little too far past the Tillamook Cheese factory, but we have a nice water view from our front window. Another 60 miles and we'll be into Washington State.

Last night, after dinner, some nice people brought us a raspberry cobbler. Sometimes Mrs. Phred's social nature pays off. I would have given them some sockeye salmon, but they were not up and about before we had to move on this morning.

We picked up our mail in Tillamook and drove another 18 miles north to the marina. Then we drove a little north to some coastal overlooks and met Rocky. Rocky is from the western Australia. I asked him if his home was near Alice Springs and he laughed. He bought a 1991 Dodge van with a bed in the back and is spending three months touring the US before he flys out of New York.

Rocky is going to cut back down to see the big sites in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. His van cost him $1,500. It has a bed in the back like our Ford camper van back in Tampa. We were a little envious of his lightweight camping plans.

When we got back to the marina I locked both sets of keys in the Toyota. I boosted Mrs. Phred up seven feet into the RV using the clasped hand technique to break into an open window in the RV because I had to pee. Fortunately she is very light and lithe. An AAA guy named "Rick" showed up in 30 minutes with a cool tool to open the Toyota. He really likes how easy it is to break into new cars.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Home is the Fisherman

Home from the sea
and the hunter is home
from the hills
Who wrote that anyway? What does it mean?

The boat is extremely clean, well organized and well maintained. They have a plaque with the captain's name and another with the name of his son, as deckhand. As we travel though Depoe Bay, we see jars everywhere soliciting funds for the care of the son. It's a small town, they try to take care of their own.

Tyler is a handsome young man in the pictures. He appears to be about 20. He was going to the post office for his father on his motorcycle when a van pulled out in front of him. He is paralyzed from the neck down now.

Life can change in an instant. I think I will take a check down to the grocery store before we leave in the morning. We've been so lucky, so long. I've got hundreds of thousands of motorcycle miles without an accident and I was young and reckless once.

In case you were wondering, a columbarium is A vault with niches for urns containing ashes of the dead.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Depoe Bay, Oregon

Depoe Bay, Oregon

Coyote Rock RV Park

The fishing trip from Depoe Bay was outstanding.
I caught a 24 inch ling cod, two "cabs" and five black rockfish. The RV freezer is about full of fish right now, including the sockeye salmon from last week.

This is a picture of the Siletz River, where we are camped tonight. Tomorrow we'll run north about 50 miles to Tillamook.

I'm making Tuscan Cabs tonight. Cabs are weird looking fish with a big flared collar. Each one makes four meals for two people. They are reputed to be excellent. I usually use this recipe on halibut.

2 sheets (12 x 18" each) Reynolds Wrap® heavy-duty aluminum foil
1 can (15 oz. each) Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp. prepared pesto, divided
2 (4 to 6 oz. each) CAB steaks
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 lemon slices
Preheat oven to 450°F and combine beans, tomatoes, and 1 tablespoons pesto; mix well. Center 1/2 of bean mixture on each foil sheet. Top with one Alaska Halibut steak; drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle CABs with lemon pepper. Top with lemon slices. Bring up sides of foil and double fold. Double fold ends to form four packets, leaving room for heat circulation inside packets. Bake 16 to 20 minutes on a cookie sheet in oven. Serve with remaining pesto. Makes 2 servings

This is the bridge coming into Depoe Bay. The town claims it's the world's smallest harbor. I think we saw a much smaller one in Alaska, but whatever floats their boats.
The harbor seals hang out by the fish cleaning place. They slap their flippers in the water, hoping for scraps of fish.

Just outside the mouth of the harbor we saw a whale about thirty feet from the boat. I didn't have my camera, so take my word for it. They like to browse close to shore and eat the shrimp in the kelp beds. This one came up about five times to spout and catch its breath.

Yesterday, Mrs. Phred and I had some clam chowder in Depoe Bay and drove north past Lincoln City. Today the fog cleared and the blue sky came out. A lovely day to be out on the water.

Depoe Bay is fairly touristy in the summer, but nothing like Key West or Martha's Vineyard. They do give the suckers an even break here with good clam chowder, whale watching and great fishing trips.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

My Life Passed in Front of My Eyes

Cape Perpetua, Oregon

We've been off the net the last couple of days, camping in the Cape Perpetua State Park. I like to get up at 4 am and play with the computer until Mrs. Phred wakes up around eight.

The days are cold and foggy near the coast. Inland they are having a serious heatwave.

So this morning I drank some coffee, read a SF book called "Redshift" for about an hour, then went back to bed at five. I couldn't sleep so I spent the next three hours remembering my life.

This is a geological formation on the Oregon Coast called "The Devil's Punchbowl".

The only thing I would change is the party I went to when I was 16. It was sponsored by the grocery store where I worked as a "bag boy". I drank too much beer and decided to go swimming nude. I couldn't find where I had left my clothing so I had to ride my motorcycle home 20 miles without any covering. It was kind of like one of those dreams where you appear naked in public, but it was real life. In retrospect, I wouldn't do that again. My father was disappointed with me, but had the wisdom to wait until the next morning to offer his fatherly advice...aside from that one incident, I wouldn't change a thing.

We stopped briefly in Newport, Oregon. They have a world class aquarium there, but we've seen it twice and we just went to the New Orleans we skipped it. They do have a nice bridge.

The fog cleared long enough yesterday to get this shot of Cape Perpetua yesterday.

Cape Foulweather was named by Captain Cook in March 1787. He had a bright young navigator on board by the name of William Bligh. Captain Bligh, G. Gordon Liddy and Chuck Yeager are my three personal all-time heroes. I wrote an article about William Bligh which was published by the BBC. It's always a thrill to find a place where the great navigator and Captain visited. He brought breadfruit to the Indies. His family loved him.

As I review my pictures of the last three days, I see a lot of tide pools and exploding waves. Maybe I need to vary my focus.

We're parked south of Lincoln City on the Siletz River about two miles from the coast. You can catch King Salmon here, rent boats or charter a serious fishing trip. Coho Salmon for dinner again tonight. The RV park has a nice feel. We have a river view, cable TV, electricity and water. Life is good.

Just north of here, near Tillamook, is the "Terrible Tilly" lighthouse, which has been turned into a columbarium. For a time, you could have your remains placed her for a fee of $1,000 (in the derrick room) or $5,000 (in the lantern room). However the "Eternity at Sea" license was revoked for poor record keeping in 2005. My plan to have Mrs. Phred pack my remains in salt, wrap me in a tarp and haul me here by a mule drawn wagon are on hold, pending the legal wrangling... I may have to go to a Plan B.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Weinermobile Crashes into Home

Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin

When you see the beautiful Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, your first thought is, "Damn, I wish I had one of those". Apparently, a 22 year-old lady Wienermobile driver put one of these lovely machines in forward instead of reverse and crashed it though the garage of a Mt. Pleasant home, cracking the foundation of the house.

The first Wienermobile rolled out in 1936. One was pulled over in Colorado for a stolen license plate several years ago. Eventually it was determined that the plate should be considered stolen only when not attached to a Wienermobile.

After 15 years of attempts, I finally beat Mrs. Phred in a tennis set. The score was 6-3. My life has included many triumphs, but none was so sweet as this victory.
We wandered the coast of Oregon today. The sand dunes dominate this area for almost 50 miles.
In the morning we'll move north maybe 80 or 100 miles.
The dunes attract a number of OHVs (off road vehicles). These are full sized vehicles like dune buggies that are not licenced to drive on highways. There are also ATVs (all terrain vehicles). These are little four wheel motorcycles by Honda and Kawasaki that are designed for off-road use. We watch a dirt bike do an amazing wheelie up a 700 foot sand dune with a 45 degree slope. I don't really approve of any of this. It seems like shameful conspicuous consumption of gasoline and a crazy mistreatment of lovely high-performance engines in blowing sand. You have to wonder how many of these machines and the trailers to haul them were financed by easy credit. Oregon has a 12% unemployment rate.

Some of the off-roaders seem relatively young. They like to start them early.

The dunes extend up to 20 miles inland and rise to heights of 800 feet.. Sand washes up on the beach and is dried and blown inland by the sea breeze. It's the middle of July and the temperature near the beach hovers near 50 degrees F. As you move inland 20 miles it raises to near 100 degrees.