Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Great Wide Open II- Up The Creek


I think its safe to say that regardless of how much you love another person, there are moments, especially in canoes, especially in strong currents, especially on really long hot days, that you would gladly send them overboard and into the drink. Luckily, most of the time, most of us don't. For us, it went something like this. 

Get up early and drive with no particular agenda towards the wilderness area north of Klamath Lake. Follow a random hiking trail sign fifteen miles down a washboard road to a trail that promises a fantastic view. a quarter mile down the trail become engulfed in a swarm of bees. Successfully out-hike the bees only to be set upon by giant, vicious mosquitoes a quarter mile later. Tough it out for another quarter mile before admitting defeat, turning around, and running, actually running, to get relief from the swarm.

Get back in the car in good spirits. Keep driving, now with a vague notion of coffee. Stumble upon an old "resort" at the north end of the lakes wetlands, get said coffee and a fantastic lunch. Decide to rent a canoe. Set out in said canoe with no particular agenda, until realizing you have crossed the halfway point of a seven mile loop. Decide to push on against the current even though we are getting tired and hungry and one of us has no idea how to steer. Spend plenty of time in the rushes due to this gap in shared skills set. Begin to grump at one another. 

Get to the open water of the lake and hit heavy winds, big water, and even bigger boats. Land ourselves back in the rushes. There are words. Maybe even idle threats. Anger and denial give way to acceptance, we are still stuck in this canoe together. One of you swears to never go canoeing again. Paddle on in silence. Get back to the dock, and discover that we are the only ones of the day to successfully complete the loop, staff have been fishing people out of the marshes because of the winds all week. Receive a heroes welcome. Make no mention of the kerfuffle. Share a beer. Decide that we are badasses.

Get home and tell the story like an adventure. Decide that next time, separate canoes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fair Thee Well


Nothing is more exhausting and rewarding than the week-long extravaganza of music, light, love, art, and general mayhem that we call the Oregon Country Fair. Its a party, an arts and music festival, and a gathering of happy people looking for a few days to be and do entirely as they please. The fair is one of the few places I know of in which people wear their inner children on the outside, where strangers smile and hug, and generosity rules the day. It is a throwback for sure, to simpler times when food was cooked by scratch, goods were made by hand, and music was made by real people playing actual instruments. But it's a good throwback. While there has been much debate this year about the direction of the fair, its rules on amplification (very little), late night partying (do it, but keep in acoustic) and environmental impact (can you say site archaeologist?), the reality is that there is something important about preserving the old-school mentality. There are plenty of festivals for electronica and all night parties. It is, in fact, the direction in which things, hip, important-type things are going, its just not the Country Fair thing. It's nice to hear world music and see bands and other acts be given the chance to perform to a wide and diverse audience they normally wouldn't get exposure to. Someday, when the novelty of our electronics wears off, we might be glad we preserved a place to celebrate the crafts, arts, and traditions of a pre 21st century time. Love is free and analog, spread it around.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Great Wide Open I - Hole In The Ground


It has been at least five years since I have been to Crater Lake, and on that occasion I was so out of season that I was the only person at the one open lookout and didn't get to see the lake because of the dense clouds. Not so this weekend. This time, I took the opposite approach and joined the crowds on the park's busiest weekend of the year,the 4th of July. Used to the crush of the more than ten million visitors the Grand Canyon gets annually, I was bracing myself for long lines, tube socks, and RV's trying to see four parks in one week. 

But that wasn't the case. It turns out that due to its remote location Crater Lake only receives about 500,000 visitors a year so even their busiest weekends are mellow in comparison to many of the other National Parks. Sure, the lodge was busy with the usual assortment of tourists, mostly from West Indian,a fact for which I have no explanation, the trails and view points were fairly mellow. 

The odd thing about visiting Crater Lake is how inaccessible the lake itself actually is. The only access to the lake itself is via the Cleetwood trail, which loses more than 700 feet in elevation in just over a mile of trail. It's steep, packed, and on this weekend, stupid hot as well. But the best parts of the park, away from the spectacular blue of the lake, are in side canyons cut through great stacks of volcanic airfall where hoo doos stand as sentries and clear lake water runs its course out to the Klamath Basin. In these parts of the park there is solitude, spectacular views of Oregon country, and a true sense being squarely set in the middle of no where. It is a wonderful reminder of just how big the world really is. So, if you haven't made it out to Crater Lake in a while or ever, put it back on your list.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flock of Birds


Last year a flock of wild turkeys moved into the neighborhood. For a while, they were an oddity, a kind of over-stuffed and mean version of the peacock. Then they took to blocking traffic, slowly crossing roadways like great herds of bison, in no particular hurry and not at all concerned about the schedules of human. And this too, was fine, as I harbored no resentment towards the deer, even though they also stop traffic. The turkeys though, do lack a certain soulful look in their eyes, and tend towards aggressive squawking and charging.  All gods creatures and whatnot.

Then, two weeks ago, their first batch of babies appeared. And they were cute, kind of. For a couple of days they looked like a great flock of somewhat ugly quail. But now, they don't. They look like the Skeksis from the Dark Crystal, only with the behavior of adolescents. And there are dozens of them. They feed outside the window in the early morning hours, climbing down from their roosts high in the old firs that surround the house. They are loud, and bully the other birds from the feeder. And they will only get bigger.

I want to resent them. For stealing my sleep, being loud and aggressive, driving away the baby chickadees, also just emerging into the world, for fighting and pooping everywhere. For being so very very turkey. But I can't. They are right, this is a lovely corner of the world in which to live and more than likely, they are also likely serving some kind of purpose, filling some niche of which I am unaware. Or, this time next year, we will have a turkey farm. Could go either way.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In The News


In a rush of much important stuff and things and deadlines and events it is easy to lose sight of the larger picture. It is easy, to stay focused in our own worlds and tiny tanks, feeling every ounce of our own import, the bigness of our fish selves. But there is a larger world out there, one that we play a de facto role in shaping. And so I emerge, and take in these things:

Alaska had wildfires in May.

There were tornadoes in Glasgow.

The starfish are dying.

The White House has a program to help the bees.

Americans, apparently, have finally decided they like soccer. And gay marriage. And marijuana.

Win some, lose some.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Notes On A Recital


From a list of things to do pinned to my dance bag:

cut hair ribbons (46)
iron skirts (24)
move buttons
playlist (with notes)
bloomers and booty shorts
1 blue boa
schedule extra rehearsal
dolls finale
prep dance camp
staff list
get sets from storage
find other shoe
take aspirin
eat food

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's A Jungle Out There


This year the the Wilderness Act turns fifty years old. Created in 1964 by Congress the act established massive tracts of wild areas across the country as protected lands. The Wilderness act was designed to preserve the nations wild areas for recreation and habitat, rather than for resource extraction, an important distinction between public lands today.  Across the country more than 100 million acres of land are protected under the act. In Oregon, less than four percent of our roadless areas are included in this protection. In fact, Oregon ranks behind both Washington and Idaho in the designation of wilderness lands, a fact that stands in stark contrast to our "green" image and con only bring trouble for a state betting it's economy on a newly minted ecotourism industry. 

Now, in the good weather, as we all step outside, is as good a time as any to reevaluate our commitment to the conscious preservation of wild areas. What is your favorite unprotected wilderness area? Why should it be a part of the wilderness act?

Photograph of the Eagle Cap wilderness area, Oregon courtesy of the National Forest Service