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Saturday, August 29, 2009

 
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the wisconsin trip we took in july was quite long and not long enough -- i find that true for a lot of trips. of course, more of this trip was spent in the car than in wisconsin, but that was part of the fun. we were gone for 2.5 weeks and could have easily eeked out some more time in south dakota or at craters of the moon.

the goal was to drive to wisconsin, spend some time w/ sven's family, attend kenyon's memorial service, then drive home, stopping at places like the caves near mt. rushmore & craters of the moon on the return trip.

we tried to make roughly 500 miles a day:
to wisconsin:
wallace, id: a sweet town with a nice interactive mining exhibit.
miles city, mt: i was surprised to find i couldn't make it through montana in one day.
glendive, mt: a dinosaur museum w/ giant bible quotes on the walls.
enchanted highway, nd: gigantic sculpture garden & metal maze in the middle of nowhere.
fergus falls, mn: a pool shaped like minnesota & a very cheap whirpool suite.
coloma, wi: our destination!

i enjoyed getting the chance to experience a part of sven's family life i've never known: coloma is an area sven's family has lived in for generations. our first night we saw fireflies, which felt like it made the whole trip worth it. we spent a lot of time with people i haven't seen since shield's wedding and edmonton. they're a fun bunch, though, especially sven's nieces and cousins. we spent a lot of time barb's lake house, and i loved the pedalboats. i could get used to lake life! sven sorted through a bunch of childhood stuff still stored in the old church. 4th of july had plenty of fireworks and i brought lots of glow necklaces & glowsticks to pass around. shield's birthday is on july 4th, so there was cake, too! the memorial service itself was a "celebration of life" at the claussen family music show barn, after which we all drove to the cemetery to witness the internment, then headed back to the barn for dinner. it was quite nice, actually, and it went off without a hitch.

returning to portland:
worthington, mi: tornado hail shattered trixie's windshield in two places.
sioux falls, sd: vegetarian meats! in the midwest!
mitchell, sd: the corn palace
wall, sd: wall drug, which mph recommended but we couldn't have missed because there were 84 billboards promoting it.
rapid city, sd: very expensive during tourist season. saw saw jewel cave, wind cave and one of the most peaceful campground location i've ever seen (pity we didn't camp there!).
devil's tower, wy: i'd never been here before, but it is pretty awesome and the trail around it is quite nice.
billings, mt: two more scary storms.
yellowstone: google routed us through here but it cost an extra $25 and a lot of time. we skirted the edges to get to Idaho so we didn't see much, but I was impressed with beryl springs. we also saw antelope, deer, buffalo, a bald eagle, and a coyote on the road eating a bird.
craters of the moon: what a neat place to camp! we climbed around in indian cave, dewdrop cave & boy scout cave, which still has ice in the summer. boy scout cave also had two boys that were stuck and one was crying; sven had to talk them out. sven also explored buffalo cave while i stayed outside w/ a walkie talkie. the stars were beautiful, and i took advantage of the "sky walk" iphone app to look up some messier objects while sipping warm french onion soup. jupiter almost blew me away: it was so bright i thought it was faumalhaut!

i was dubious about getting a new piece of technology right before a big trip, but i have to say the iphone was a perfect travel companion. having access to driving directions and "where is the closest health-food store or taco bell" was really helpful. and without it i certainly wouldn't have regularly updated twitter, twitpic and youtube with silly videos of toby & gregory. i feel like i got more pictures because i could easily carry it around in my pocket. i switched between pandora & the ipod depending on whether i had an internet connection or not. also, how could i have kept up with the wailing from portland's first heat wave this summer without it? ;)

but trixie was surprisingly temperamental during the trip, frequently throwing suspicious, unresolvable errors. once she didn't start her gas engine at all and i thought we were going to have to stay an extra several days in rapid city. we found the jumpstart battery box very helpful in that situation (and later we used the box as a power source to recharge the iphone and inflate the air mattress). i love trixie to death: she was a great deal better to bring than the svan and she's behaving fine now, but it makes me a little nervous to take her on a big trip again.

i appreciated mph watching over the house while we were gone, checking to make sure the watering system sven set up for the garden this year didn't explode and sampling the raspberries that were ripe right while we were gone. i kind of missed not being able to ride rose for so long, especially since i had just converted her. (barb just got a new bike (an ice-blue Giant named "freya"), but she was a 21-speed, which i still don't understand, and made a terrible racket.)

only a few minor things were less than stellar: wisconsin had pretty awful food (doubly so if you're vegetarian like sven). minnesota & wisconsin have a really disconcerting amount of anti-abortion billboards. the fireworks on the 4th were a little too exhuberant and the people shooting them weren't being very careful: two of them zipped back into the crowd (us!). i had a little meltdown in a grocery store in idaho. i got a cold on the way home. i lost my back filling while brushing my teeth camping. at craters of the moon, there was a terrible ampitheatre astronomy program that was much more like a mangled book report than anything with interest in, love for or knowledge of stars.

but overall, i really had a good time. i'm still playing catch up on some tasks over a month later (like, say, this blog), but we got unpacked and back into motion pretty quickly. whew!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

 
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right before the wisconsin trip i have yet to write about, sven & i went on a walk on powell butte w/ a parks & rec biologist. powell butte is our playground, but i don't actually know much about it -- except that the hill outside my house is very steep. :) construction for new reservoirs may close the main road up to the butte for a while, so despite bumping against our packing deadline, we decided it was worth it.

the biologist was a bit of a crusty curmudgeon who obviously loves powell butte but must have been "volunteered" to lead us. powell butte is a square mile of extinct volcano on the outer se edge of portland. it's the second largest park in portland. our biologist showed us "lidar" images which were fascinating and clearly showed the geological processes that formed the it. the City bought powell butte in 1922, when it was still a large farm, and there is a row of oak trees to mark a prior windbreak. but it's only been open to the public since the 90s. (side note: clackamas means “lots of kamas,” kamas being bulbs native americans used to eat.)

the job of the biologists is to return the landscape to a more native habitat. powell butte has been attempting to hack back its 30-60 acres of blackberries & hawthorne, replacing them with thimbleberry & ursine native blackberries. he brought a camera with embedded gps to document invasive species. fire prevention is another large component of the biologists' job: they burn 20-30 acres a year and trim the doug fir skirts to keep low bush fires from consuming the whole tree.

the reservoir construction will alter the butte: some trails will be rerouted during construction and some trails will remain rerouted afterwards. the concrete ditch will be removed, too. i was very happy to learn the compass rose will be replaced as part of the project, but i was sad to see the compass rose bench is gone -- they simply sawed it off after vandals damaged it. i hope they replace it and place benches on the new trails, too, but this marked one of our biggest disagreements. he says he wants to promote walking, not loitering, and that benches attract vandals and drugdealing. however, i feel quite strongly that offering rest points and vistas is a prime way to enjoy powell butte -- one does not need to be in motion to appreciate the outdoors, and places to contemplate and relax are rare. plus, benches help people who may not be in a good shape get in better shape by allowing them to go at their own pace and rest when needed. that's how i explored the springwater early in my biking days, for instance, by hopping from bench to bench (and why it's so difficult for me to see the damage done to some of the benches lately).

near the apple orchard (which will remain, thank goodness!), he showed us three memorial oaks planted in honor of former powell butte attenders. they have no plaques or designations because they wanted the memorial to be about the planting of the tree, so it's neat to know what they're for.

near the end of the walk he turned some mountain bikes around on a path reserved for hikers & horses. i'm always interested to see how people respond and use authority in situations like this. apparently, the way you do it is by overwhelming an otherwise well-meaning couple with biological repercussions, rules and lingo. it was pretty awesome.

Monday, August 03, 2009

 
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tomorrow's my birthday (which i share w/ gerrie, maggie & obama!) and i still have to write about wisconsin. in the meantime, here's what i've been up to since returning from our 3-week long road trip:

* surviving the heat wave: i wait anxiously for the pacific northwest summer and most of the time it's simply glorious. however, we do find ourselves in hot weather occasionally, and like the snow, portland is ill-prepared to deal with it because hardly anyone has air conditioning (including us). so a whole week of heatwave was pretty crippling (as bonnie said, you had to stay inside almost like you were snowed in). i got through it by using a complex system of opening/closing the shades & windows, putting my hair up, drinking homemade iced chai tea lattes & homemade lemonade, wrapping a wet cloth napkins around my neck after letting them chill in the freezer, and when it got to 106 degrees, i kept my feet in a tub of ice water.

* biking: i was housetending for pdxmph and was happy to use it as an excuse to ride rose (thanks for chocolate-covered cherries, too!). i attached a cupholder to rose and have already broken it just by pressing against it, but sven modified rose's baskets so they'd stop drooping from the weight of the battery and scraping against the fender/wheel. rose lost a whole lot of her native domed hex nuts for no good reason, so we had to replace them with less spiffier ones. i took a bike safety class from the ebike store, which i enjoyed primarily to be with the company of other ebike owners. i had to bike late at night because of the unusual heat (biking with the breeze was cooler than being inside the stuffy house or even outside with no breeze). one night i found an easy route to clackamas town center so later i biked to rei to get my bridgepedal vest & explored the new renovations (the sidewalks are so shiny!). i had several weird bike interactions this week (a woman at the bike rack yelling at daughter, a man asking weird questions about rose at target, a family sitting with their grill in the middle of the path at raymond park at 10pm). i also got squeezed between a driving car and a parked car on holgate. when he stopped to drop off someone off, i stopped to talk to him. he seemed initially reluctant to talk to me, but when i told him i was scared he took it well and we parted amicably.

* eating: when we got back from wisconsin we wanted to get chinese & watch bablyon 5 (ala lily allen), but the "lucky corner" chinese restaurant down the street from us remodeled and drastically changed their menu so that there were no vegetarian options for sven. fortunately pho van is as delicious as ever. michaelmas found a cheap & delicious savory pie shop on 23rd and a new frozen yogurt place for us to try. sven & i went to ping for the first time and i had a really wonderful "african chicken" dish. i also lovelovelove their drinking vinegars. i've been using the hot weather as an excuse to visit dutch bros coffee, who conveniently sent us a slew of coupons i've been using on dutch freezes. dutch bros is a straight shot down 136th and seems to be the replacement for our much beloved coffee people.

* stargazing: well, not too much of that, strangely enough, though july was an excellent month for iss watching thanks to @twisst. i also finally got my galileoscope (!!!), which i plan on setting it up later this week.

* entertaining ourselves: sven & i saw quantum of solace, which i liked less than casino royale. we also saw the movie "moon" at fox tower, which i quite enjoyed. we saw one of the last of the amok time trek-in-the-park plays and afterwards had dinner w/ bridget & darren -- which was apparently so much fun we missed the beauty salon explosion and fire down the block. i've been delighted to return to my sunday farmer’s market routine, though i was crushed to find that lilikoi will be moving to a mississippi site since lents is still so slow. (lilikoi makes fabulous kalua pork wraps. i really want more food vendors there!). michaelmas & i went to saturday market to celebrate the beginning of our relationship 11 years ago (though rob bowman introduced us in 1996!). we saw a bagpipe player on a unicycle and i found my favorite new skirt at shabbyknapsack. i also popped over to mt. tabor's 100th anniversary and plein air exhibit. sven & i attended anna’s fortuitous 40th birthday party: we had a pretty good time for a couple of introverts, playing bocce, volleyball, and tarot.

[amok time: oh, iphone, how i wish you had zoom. and that we had gotten there 20mins earlier.]

[my tarot reading at anna's fortuitous 40 birthday party]

* working: i prepped and taught a new class: creative business identity. it went really well, though i had a question at the end that threw me for a loop. also, it's worth mentioning that it looks like i'm in the market for a part-time job again. i'm not in a rush and am pretty open to the field, though my ideal job is something low-key and/or in the reproductive health/counseling areas. please keep me in mind! :)