Tuesday, December 31, 2013

City of Karma

Portland, Oregon skyline...
Portland skyline...

The last major stop of our late-summer tour through the United States southwest was Portland, Oregon. It turned out to be one of the most  memorable experiences of our trip.

During our one-day tour, we experienced a string of what I can only describe as good karma.
  • At one point, we were looking for the aerial tram, but our GPS led us astray and we found ourselves lost in the suburbs. A landscaper working in a yard not only gave us detailed directions to our destination, he further recommended his favourite ice cream shop, Salt & Straw ice cream to us.
  • At the aforementioned ice cream shop, the cheerful upbeat girl working behind the counter let us sample every flavour of ice cream they had before we made our choice. She also recommended the Portland City Grill to us as a place to have a nice dinner.
  • At the tram we couldn't find any place to park. The attendant at the nearby hospital was nice enough to let the visiting Canadians park in his lot for free despite the fact that it was a pay parking lot for hospital patrons only.
  • Following the tram tour, we decided to ride the highly praised Portland commuter rail to see the city at large. However, the ticket-issue machine was broken at the time. The conductor of the train told us that 'as much as I would love to take your money today I'm just going to have to let you ride for free'.
All this love and good fortune left us feeling pretty good about Portland. We stopped in at Voodoo Donut and picked up a dozen donuts. We ate two, but gave the rest away to homeless people in the area -- our way of paying it forward.

Approached to Portland seen from the tram...
The not-so-mean streets of Portland...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Empress


Victoria's Fairmont Empress Hotel glows with festive red-and-green Christmas lighting...


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Old Town Christmas

Christmas comes to old Victoria...
Old Town is a turn-of-the-20th century recreation of Victoria, BC located on the third floor of the excellent Royal BC Museum.

Santa Claus as we know him today is mostly an early-20th century figure... before that he was known as Father Christmas. In keeping with the time and the theme then, Father Christmas puts in an appearance at Old Town to entertain the young kids.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the road to Portland

Welcome back to the wild west coast.
We continued to make our way to Portland via the coast, then turned more or less right. As we continued along the coast, I was happy to see the weather becoming wilder and wetter. Although we enjoyed our time in the desert country of the American southwest, I wouldn't want to live there.

The scenery never changes when you live in a desert. Well, except for the clouds going by, perhaps. On the coast though, every day is a new experience between the water and weather, and it felt good to be returning to that.

Our last encounter with a derelict building was this gas station on a lonely road -- they're always on lonely roads -- in Oregon...

Abandoned gas station in Oregon...
No service today...
Rusting gas pumps at a derelict gas station...
Rust covered gas pumps...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More Oregon coastline

Sea lions cling to a cliff side in Oregon.
Sea lions... nimble when they wanna be...
At one point during our drive up the Oregon coast we stopped to see Sea Lion Caves which bills itself as America's largest sea caves.

Unfortunately, the caves were closed due to maintenance and upgrading so we had to make due watching these sea lions clinging to the cliffs just outside the cave entrance. I was impressed that these marine mammals, normally so awkward out of the water, were able to cling to the nearly vertical cliff wall.

Pacific waves meet Oregon coastline.
Ruggedly beautiful Oregon coastline...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oregon coast



A lighthouse stands at one end of a beach in Oregon.
See the lighthouse at the far end?
Some scenes from our drive up the coastal highway in Oregon. Only about the first third of the highway is actually adjacent to the coast. The rest is far enough way that you have to take a lot of turnoffs into parking lots overlooking that water.

Rock rise from the water off an Oregon beach.
Rocks rise from the Pacific Ocean off Oregon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Where a bear? There a bear!

We turned north at the Oregon-California border taking the coastal highway route. We passed through the town of Brookings, Oregon where we had breakfast at Mattie's Pancake House. It appeared to be a popular venue with locals, packed wall to wall with fellow pancake lovers.

In Brookings, Oregon comical bear statues entertain visitors.
Passing through town we noticed a collection of comical and eye-catching bear statues along the main drag. I stopped to take a few of the more intriguing ones that caught our eye, including Samurai Bear!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No Monument!

An effigy protests the northern California monument proposal...
The Constitution and a gun... touchstones for the home of the brave, land of the free
From Reno we turned west and north heading for the coast. At this point we were winging it, but we decided to return home via the coastal highway. That's how we came to discover the beautiful Klamath River in northern California. It was a slow drive though as the route is not a major highway.

Along the way we kept seeing signs on lawns or attached to trees along the route - 'No Monument'. Or we'd see effigies like the ones seen here.

We had no clue what it all meant and it was several days later before we found an American who explained it to us.

In the States, a monument is a tract of land set aside by special designation by the federal government for environmental protection. It's an extreme designation, however, that severely curtails ALL human activities within the protected area. No development of any sort, no mining, no fishing, no hunting, no camping, no hiking... no body allowed in except via special permission. It's environmentalism carried to an irrational extreme

In this case, the US government wants to set aside about 600,000 acres of northern California and southern Oregon and locals are vehemently opposed to it. It would severely curtail their recreational pastimes and the right to manage their own resources.

Effigies of protest carrying the flag and a gun...
The Stars and Stripes and a gun... yup, we're firmly in America
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, a.k.a KS Wild, is the organization behind the research and preparations leading to the proposal.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The patina of memory...


A  couple share conversation and coffee at Georgie's Cafe in Saanich, BC.
she remembers him...
his youthful love strong and hard
 where did that boy go?

My poetry is not reflective of this couple specifically. They are actually regulars at the same Sunday morning coffee shop that my wife and I visit and seem like very nice people.