Monthly Archives: July 2009

Not a stick.

Trees on the coast.

Trees on the coast.

My nephew is 10 years old. For the last few years, he and his family come and stay with us for a few weeks in the summer.

When he was a tiny kid and we’d go to the Oregon coast, he’d find a stick, and he’d drag it along the sand making patterns. We’d have to watch him to make sure that he wouldn’t fall too far behind. Or he’d use his stick as a sword, threating all the seagulls sitting on the beach (yeah, like they’d let him get too close!).

As he’s grown older, the stick has become a light saber. He knows more about Star Wars than I ever did or will. When he’d get bored or tired of our company, he’d tell us he was going into the yard to play with the stick. We even found a great book at Powells called Not a Stick for him.

This year, wherever we went and especially while hiking, he’d find a not-a-stick. We still have a whole collection of them in our backyard. We told him we’d hang onto the super awesome one he found on the coast until the next time he visits.

So you can imagine how much I laughed (in a good way) today when I was looking through the Mt Tabor Park Centennial Celebration and found this group: Men With Sticks.

And if that’s not enough to keep his visits to us going, the Wall Street Journal named Portland the Skateboarding Capital of the World today. I often see as many skateboarders commuting to work as I do people on bikes.

Crazy talk, crazy talk!



If you have made the mistake of calling me recently, you know that all I can do right now is talk about the weather.

It’s not entirely my fault, I say, my genetics fortunately given me my father’s coloring but unfortunately sensitivity to heat. Which we’ve now passed down to my nephew (though not my niece). When I was a kid, after one rough summer day, I had to spend a week in a darkened room, drinking a doctor-prescribed syrup and moaning about my head and my skin. I remember also being put into a bathtub filled with ice-water. I overheat like no one I know.

Another summer, my mother, valiant and brave, drove from Oregon to Wisconsin and then to Florida. Whereupon, I immediately got a second-degree sunburn (or was it third?) and while Gretchen and my cousins continued to frolic in the pool, I was unable to leave the hotel. My mom gave me quarters to play video games in the game room, and I think that’s why I like video games to this date (I think I was 10? 11? at the time).

Brian used to tell me that heat exhaustion was in my head. And then one summer, we took an epic road trip (hey, I should write about that sometime on here, neat things happened) and made an epic mistake of driving through Arizona. In August. At noon. Through the desert. Brian’s stalwart Toyota Tercel who had made trips all over the country, finally overheated. In the desert, far from anywhere, at 118 degrees (!) , we had to turn the heat on full blast, roll down the windows and hope. After a few minutes the water we had sensibly packed for this part of the drive was literally too hot to touch. Brian, unfortunately, overheated. I could tell. We pulled off at a Perkins as soon as we entered Phoenix, and he started talking out of his head. Since I am an expert at overheating, I knew what was happening. I paid our bill, found an air conditioned hotel (that wasn’t in our plans) and put him in an ice cold shower. When he came out, I turned the air as cold as it would go and put cold towels and ice cubes on his head. Needless to say, he has never told me that heat exhaustion is in my head again.

We went to Texas for my cousin Shelley’s wedding, and a day or two after, we drove to Austin. About 10 minutes after parking, I started talking crazy talk from the heat, and Brian quickly steered me into a restaurant until I returned to myself.

All this is to say, I am from Oregon. The Pacific Northwest. We do damp AWESOMELY. I do grey cloudy days with pure bliss. You will never hear me complain about rain or cloudiness, EVER. It makes me happy, it makes me see better.

We have broken all heat records in Portland this week. Yesterday, it was 106. We were supposed to beat that today by 107. I’m not sure if we did or not, but know that Vancouver, WA did, just across the Columbia River from Portland. Seattle broke its alltime record by hitting 103 downtown. Holy crap.

Our air conditioner decided to take a crap two weeks ago – no biggie, I thought. It never gets hot enough here that it’s big deal. If it warms up, we can always sleep in the guest room. It never gets hot there.

Last night, it was 90 around midnight. *weep* If you have heard me complain, if you are laughing at all of my facebook “I’m in airconditioning” posts, feel pity on me. I’m making no sense to anyone. I haven’t tried to accomplish a single thing in three days.

We’re expecting it to finally be better this week, when it hits a high of 92. Which is 16 degrees (trust me, those 16 degrees mean a lot) lower than today.

Yesterday, the only place hotter than Portland was was Phoenix.

Err….I guess I am mostly posting this for posterity, so I can look back and say, holy crap, it was hot.

Edited to add a quote from kgw: ” The heat was was expected to begin to weaken Thursday, with the high in the Portland area ‘cooling off’ to about 100.”

hahahahaha, cooling off to 100. *weep*

Hiking for the rest of my life.

Hiker falls from Gorge.

I’ve been meaning to post this because this guy will definitely be someone I think about for a long time. He’s alright, despite falling off one of the trails along the Gorge (scaaa-ry).

Some excerpts from kgw, in case they don’t permanently archive their stories:

“CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. — A 90-year-old Portland man was still hospitalized in critical condition Thursday after falling on a popular Columbia Gorge hiking trail on Wednesday afternoon. ”

“The group has been doing Wednesday hikes in the Gorge for more than 37 years, according to the women. They said Dubuar has led the hikes since he retired some three decades ago. The group enjoys a “short” hike of 4 to 6 miles each Wednesday. ”

That’s soooo awesome. I think I read at one point that their youngest member was in his late 60s.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to get to the same level of ability to be able to hike every week for six miles in my 90s!! I keep thinking about him, and how cool is it that he’s fine!

Twin Tunnels Hike

On the Twin Tunnels Trail on the Gorge.

On the Twin Tunnels Trail on the Gorge.

On Sunday, we went hiking for about nine miles on the Twin Tunnels Trail. It was a good hike with many beautiful things to look at as you walked. It was a pretty easy walk because there wasn’t much elevation gain (although if I was on a bike I’d’ve died, it was slow and steady gain).

High above Hwy 84.

High above Hwy 84. Felt like flying, a bit.

Formerly, the trail was the historic Columbia River Highway. The new highway is below this (Hwy 84). This section had been shut down to cars and people for years. The tunnels had been filled, and it was unused. Just recently, the tunnels were cleared and it has been restored to be a place for biking and hiking.

Beginning of Twin Tunnels Trail.

Beginning of Twin Tunnels Trail.

Tunnel on the Twin Tunnels Trail.

Tunnel on the Twin Tunnels Trail.

Brian at an adit.

Brian at an adit.

According to Portland Hikers, these windows in the tunnel are called adits. They also close and lock the tunnels at night to protect them from graffiti. Well, and also to protect the graffiti from graffiti:

1920s graffiti.

1920s graffiti.

In the 1920s, some teenagers got trapped in the tunnel during a freak snowstorm for eight days. One of the ways they passed the time is carving their names into the side of the tunnel (and after a few days, it had to be so that they’d be identified too). Very cool to see. There’s more of it, but it was really hard to read after nearly a hundred years so I didn’t try to take a picture of it. It was pretty hard to notice at first, even for me and I was looking for it! I told several bikers who pulled over to enjoy the coolness of the tunnel to go back and look at it.

Having driven on both the new and old highway, it felt odd for a bit to walk on it without fear of being run over by a car, but the views were incredible, and I want to do it again (maybe in the fall when it’s slightly cooler).

Oh and for wildlife, we saw a doe along the trail and the doe and I watched each other for five minutes or so (I gave in and wanted to hike on).

On the drive to the trail, right along the Columbia River, a bald eagle swooped over Brian’s car holding a squirming fish in its talons. It was so surreal to see that in person – I think we both started laughing just because it was so exactly what you’d see in a movie or a commercial, not in real life.

As you can probably tell, I am finally happy. It is so good to be home, and you can tell – I am smiling, my skin color is better, I’m getting back into shape. How could you not be happy when you live in a place as amazing as Oregon?

Something I didn’t just learn, and a hike

Something I already knew: no matter how many times I see Iron Giant, I cry at the end. It is the only movie I can remember making me cry.

After staying up last night until 1 a.m. doing tech support on my sister’s computer (not her fault – the stupid McAfee had issues) and getting up at 7 to see them off, we decided to go for a long hike on the Gorge. It was an awesome hike, about 4 hours long. I think we may be crazy. Pictures to follow tomorrow when I download them and get some sleep.

Things I’ve recently learned:

1. My sister thinks I look better in red lipstick than in pale lipstick. I agree with this, but it’s nice to have options.

2. My nephew, in addition to being a talented story author, also writes great songs. Both the lyrics and the music.

3. My niece is nearly a teenager. This is going to be interesting to watch, and hard to get through. She’s been raised very well, so I think she will get through it just fine, but her mother and I were really awful teenagers and I suspect there are difficult times ahead for all of us.

4. I am starting to like salad a little.


This is the sort of thing that drives my sister crazy about me. Her husband, kids and I took a walk to give her time to talk to our Spanish friend Marta, and we came upon a small family who were looking intently and worriedly at something on the ground.

Their mom explained that they had found a squirrel who was paralyzed from the waist down, and that they didn’t know what to do. Jay pointed out that the squirrel was going to starve to death and we should go get a shovel (which I don’t have). Meanwhile, I’m watching how scared the poor thing is, and he’s dragging himself away to die. The look in his eyes as he watched us is what will get me.

This was hours ago, and I am still so blue about it – not so much the death, death is part of life, but the suffering he clearly experienced before that, and that there was nothing I could do about it. The squirrel, by the way, has passed on since then – I had to drive by on our way back from downtown and he was clearly an ex-squirrel.

It will make me sad for a long time – I know that, and I wish I could just brush off things like that as other people do. I hit a chipmunk years ago, and I have to not think about it, especially late at night.


Maggie, on the other hand, when I said I needed to think about something else so that I didn’t stay blue, thoughtfully started a conversation about why people want to put graffiti on things. It was an interesting conversation with someone who is just starting to grow up, and who comes from a suburb that doesn’t see much graffiti. Glad to have had the chance to talk to her about it.


Mouse over when you get here for the names and seasons of some of your favorite Sesame Street Muppets.

We got some good hikes in with Gretchen and the kids – Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail loop, Silver Falls (Upper and Lower South Falls) and also a quick hike through Powell Butte. Even though the last one we hiked up and down for over an hour, when we asked Matt what he thought, he said, “It was good, but it was really short.” YAY! I will start researching some longer ones, maybe on Mt Hood for next year with them. Cool.

Jay got in last night after a traveling headache (he had to fly to North Carolina from Wisconsin to get here in Portland due to some problems at the Denver airport).

Our friends Josh and Maia from Madison also met us at the Kennedy School to let us meet their incredibly adorable daughter Ev. They drove here and are currently driving back to Wisconsin with a one year old! Brave!

So far

So far we’ve done the following:

Ate dinner (super late!) at the Kennedy School.

We got up on Saturday and went to the farmers’ market to get peaches. Also got a ton of berries: blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blueberries.

Played with legos, then played some four square at Sabin Elementary. We cooked out (super late again) and then went down to the Eastbank Esplanade to watch the fireworks. We got icecream from a truck there!

I got over-pleased with myself and so of course, there were trees in the way of seeing fireworks – we could kinda see them through the trees. We grabbed our blanket, and headed toward them, stopping just under the freeway. The fireworks were really cool, especially the last bit. After it was over, everyone clapped, and all the people on their bikes rang their bells, which will make me smile for a long, long time – so Portland. We got home surprisingly fast given how crowded it was there – we crossed MLK in front of a lot of car, escorted by bikes.

Yesterday we went for a hike in Forest Park! We did the Wildwood trail (the loop, not the super long part). 3.5 miles – it was beautiful. I’ll post pictures later. The kids liked it too! We peeked into the Japanese Gardens and decided to do that another day. I ran down the stairs there and used the ladies’ in the Rose Test Garden and saw Mt Hood floating over the city. Still makes me gasp. :)

Last night, we played board games in the garden, starting out with a vintage 1977 Star Wars game, and continuing on to Clue. Dinner was terribly late – I have to make a goal of feeding the kids at 6 tonight – last night they didn’t eat until 9:30 p.m.! Which is 11:30 their time! Whoa! But we had made pesto and pasta and carrots when we came home from hiking, and it took that long to get hungry again.

So far, it’s been a fun trip!