i am an unrequited astronomer, pretend patient, gentle adventurer, pedal enthusiast, recovering calligrapher, occasional thespian and unfinished poet living in portland, oregon. contacting me via email is usually a good idea.
12:23 AM: chang'o and the jade rabbit
in september sven & i were invited to celebrate the chinese full moon festival in diamond, oregon. there wasn't an official celebration; we just wanted to watch the moonrise over the desert. diamond has a population of 5 and the only thing there is an old hotel. it's like the oregon outback. stark country lined with ledges of columnar basalt.
day1: we left early and made many stops. driving over mt hood, we stopped at the arts cabins where i held my down to earth/andy goldsworthy class. sven hadn't seen it before and we got to see how the piece i created has weathered over time. then we stopped at mill creek, the deschutes river, the old canyon highway, and ate lunch at our favorite place in bend (mirenda). we were delighted to discover a "shoe tree" between bend & burns: 20-25 pairs of shoes had been thrown into a dead tree so the shoes looked like fruit. we reached diamond just in time for dinner. afterwards we shared the binoculars and starcharts and then joined shu-ju & mike for a walk in the bright moonlight. the stars were beautiful and the crickets sang with one voice. later that night i saw four deer munching the grass under the apple tree in the yard.
[diamond: population 7 5]
[hotel diamond sign]
day2: after a late start, we ate lunch at the hotel's odd little restaurant/lounge area which used to be the community icehouse. we played two games of pool, both of which sven won: 1 because i sank the 8 ball early, and one based on merit. we explored a fascinatingly burned building next door that housed dozens of dragonflies and then walked about the dirt roads for a bit. then we all packed up picnic dinners and head toward the alvord desert (with a stop in fields). just as we finished setting up and settled down to dinner, the full harvest moon crested the plateau of the steens mountains. we ate traditional mooncakes & washed them down with strong black tea. without anything in the way, i was hugely surprised to discover that auriga/capella rises almost due north!
[gl. & shu-ju with chicken hats]
[moon rising over alvord desert//credit: steve messick]
day3: out on the screened hotel porch for a late breakfast. i wrote a poem out there on the laptop, one in a series of poems based on the full moon. sven & i headed out with plans to see the mulheur caves, the lava beds, and the crane hot springs -- but couldn't find any of them! we went too far past too far, ending up at burns junction and we take the opportunity to buy homemade chocolate-chip cookies from the mayor. at that point, the most exciting thing that had happened to us that day was that we had crossed into the mountain time zone! so we tried driving up the stinking water access road just to go somewhere, but despite some good views, it was very slow going, so we headed back to diamond. however, we took a wrong turn and end up at the malheur wildlife refuge, which added an unexpected hour to the trip home. the hotel had been serving some great food and had been quite good at accommodating sven's vegetarianism -- except on this day, when they they thought he ate fish. oops! after dinner, we played two games of pool w/ shu-ju & mike (we won one, then lost one because i scratched when sinking the 8 ball. sound familiar?). before we went on another nighttime walk, we were enchanted by two new hotel guests singing "golden slumbers" with a guitar on the porch. then the sweetest dogs accompanied us on our walk: we called them the hotel's safety escort service, though we had a close call with a car and the dogs as we were returning to the hotel.
[road to nowhere]
[gl. at burns junction]
day4: another breakfast out on the porch meant we got to wave shu-ju & mike goodbye. not long afterwards sven & i headed out, too. our goal was to stop by john day. first we stopped at the john day outlook which was dizzying & inspiring. then we stopped by john day's archaeology center, which is new and pleasant. finally we journeyed to the painted hills: wow! i was really impressed at the beauty & grandeur & alienness of the painted hills, and especially painted hills cove. we were shocked to discover another shoe tree on the way home. this one had even more shoes and the remains of a sign. toby came with us on this trip and sang spike's parts in "once more with feeling" on the way home. after a brief stop at the prineville pizza hut, we got back home late only to immediately launch ourselves into someone else's crisis (the phone rang as we were unpacking the car!).
[sven & gl. at the john day fossil bed]
[more painted hills]
[another shoe tree!]
anyway, overall it was a great trip. i'd love to do it again next year but the date of the full moon festival conflicts with the hp lovecraft fest! aiieee!
Wow! That's a darned good synopsis of what we did!