T/Blues: 07/02-10/2012

July 27, 2012

(NOTE: realize have been remiss in failing to identify “pages” which contain add’l photos of certain locations. These “posts” generally cover only part of pictures taken. A bit more about a place might come from checking out more photos)

MON: In a giant leap of faith, or a horrible business decision, Trung offers me a mini-(well, micro-) course in hotel management and heads off to Port Townsend/WA, and changes me from relaxed, laid-back, chilled-out hosteler to stressed-out, anxiety-prone hotelier, in a single gesture. Manage (with great aid from patient “clients”) to get credit card payments posted, guests into the right rooms, and field phone inquiries without my anticipated heart attack.


View from Seaside hostel

TUES: By the time Trung returns, guests have NOT revolted, police have NOT jailed me for fraud, building remains standing, and, if her bankers are perplexed by my financial efforts in her behalf, our recent “anti-banker” attitude has intimidated their retaliation.

WED: Independence Day begins on a high note, with an early morning hug courtesy of Tracie-from-Seattle. (Sidebar: T-F-S is directly responsible for a major decision to tour Washington’s North Cascades. We met at Seaside hostel a few years back, and are mutually surprised to find each other visiting this time. Her description then, of WA-20 as a T/Blues candidate, gestated over time and is now a central part of my itinerary).

Later, as old Army habits die hard, find my body stiffening to attention, and my eyes following our flag, during Seaside’s modest 4th-of-July parade. As their VFW float passed, a grey-haired, buzz-cut man in an insignia-ed blue jumpsuit, slips over, inquires if I’d “served”. At my reply, “US Army”, he offers a “Thank you for your service” which brings proud tears to my eyes (and, my heart lurches for all those no-longer-young men, who, serving in a REAL war [i. e., Vietnam], needed those compliments and were denied them).

Later, with another frequent guest, Aussi John Sandler, we track down Ruth Sherwood, who once offered such delight as hostel manager. With her gorgeous grandson firmly attached to grandma’s shoulder, we reminisce in Seaside’s Historical Museum at which today’s pre-fireworks celebration is held.


Drum-&-Bugle Corps concert

Head downtown and am treated to an inspiring “practice” by a drum-and-bugle corps: that they can play and do “close-order drill” simultaneously, draws me to their concert an hour later. (For a fuller look, check out Seaside “page”)

Fireworks are fireworks, so, as darkness falls, youngsters stare goggle-eyed as explosions color Seaside’s beach. Inevitable “ooohs” and “aaahs” accompany multi-hued star-bursts. Post-event, as people wander along the Promenade, huge beach fires, small rockets, and sparklers challenge increasing darkness.


Seaside Beach… destination site of Mt Hood > Seaside Run

THU > MON: settle into a routine of playing “hostel host” each afternoon as Trung rests or does her chores. Still manage to find a few “odd jobs” (fix a shower; straighten a toolshed) to get my “practical man” license renewed (it was a basement-cleaning effort on my first visit which Trung appreciated enough to invite me back).


T/Blues: 07/01/2012

July 26, 2012

Drive  OR-99W into McMinnville.

Now, West Coast wine aficionados know this town as a great collection of wineries. Airplane buffs, know it as a town which “stole” Howard Hughes’ famous “Spruce Goose” from Long Beach/CA. (If you’re unfamiliar with the full “Spruce Goose” story, do a search… it’s a rather bizarre, yet fascinating insight into “The Aviator” Howard Hughes).

A family, the McMenamins, have carved out an unusual collection of venues in Oregon. Some are relatively standard bars, some are exotic. McMinnville’s Hotel Oregon falls somewhere between, so choose to breakfast there. (Staff and food are wonderful; friends who’ve STAYED there praise it).


“Children Reading” sculpture

Then wander McMinnville’s collection of old buildings in “Historic Downtown” along 3rd St. Am delighted at a “Children Reading” sculpture outside their library. (Waiting for library to open, ask a young man in a baseball cap and “lumberjack” shirt “The Question” and his reasoned reply on why “The Drug War” should be ended proves fascinating. “Weed is to OUR generation, what booze was to yours. Yeah, ya gotta do something about hard drugs, but putting people in jail isn’t having much effect. Maybe our new healthcare bill will allow treatment instead of prison, but we really need to change our current approach”).


Brigitte Monastery: Chapel

Later, drive out to tiny Amity’s Brigittine Monastery. In a tiny chapel and outside on deserted grounds, find peaceful solitude… somehow, quite easy to just sit and allow “unnoticed” thoughts pass through my mind… hard to describe a state where your mind is “running”, but there’s just no “rational” assessment of thought processes. (Am also, somehow, reminded of Thomas Merton and his long delayed contemplations as a silent Trappist monk).


Ft Yamhill: reconstruction

Slip onto OR-99W and pause in Dayton, as, in their Legion Field, they’ve reconstructed old Fort Yamhill.

Finally, as afternoon light begins to wane, pass through a series of small winery-laden towns, hop onto US-26 and head into Seaside to see what improvements friend Trung has made to her restful hostel.

T/Blues: 06/30/2012

July 23, 2012

Check out lovely, flower-rich Albert Cohn Park before traipsing over to City Park  to photograph Locomotive 1785.

Drive up OR-99E to Aurora’s “designated” National Historic District, and, while their Historical Society offers promise, Mohler House is private and the rest of Aurora is aged and attractive; am left curious about how such designations are made.

Further along, Oregon City more than compensates.


End of the Trail Interpretive Center

A pass through Old Town, close to  Willamette River offers an End of the Trail Interpretive Center and Information Center. Two young women driving back to Texas, trying to decide their next move. A local volunteer pushes for Columbia Gorge, so offer that they could then head down US-97 and see Crater Lake before rejoining I-5 in northern CA (DON’T mention that point of re-entry is Weed… they look a bit too Texan). Tho university students, am surprised that “immigration reform” and “reducing the (national) debt” take priority over “jobs” in answer to my question.

They are of one mind, re “limited amnesty” (“they’re HERE… weed [no joke] out the bad ones and send them home if they screw up”), but have complementary views on “debt” (“we’ve got to stop spending more than we take in… that’s just common sense” and “we’re going to end up like those counties in Europe”).

Wonder what route they finally take: one for the soul, the other for the “sou”.


The Wheel… historical mural

Photo/Walk through Old Town: “old time” murals gracing a wall of  honky-tonk The Wheel; a memorial mural to a Dr Forbes mural on a furniture store wall; an Elevator/Tower joining Old Town with Uptown.


“Meetin’ Up” mural

Downtown seems almost deserted on a Saturday morning.  A proliferation of bars; a mixed-use Masonic Temple (incidentally, also the oldest on the West Coast); a lovely, half-hidden “Meetin’ Up” mural which evokes how it must have felt, after a long, lonely trail ride to be re-united with settled people and a sense of “civilization”.


Drive  Uptown into McLoughlin Historical District. A ridge-crest promenade offers a view of surprisingly subtle falls. Along High St and 6th St, a series of historically significant homes, and Stevens-Crawford House & Historical Museum. Across from postage-stamp-sized Jacobsen Garden, Atkinson Memorial Unitarian Church, and just down the street charming Carnegie Center/Library.

Continue on  past now-commercialized IOOF Bldg to check out a series of old, well-maintained homes redolent with references to early settlers before returning to their library to do some computer work.

T/Blues: 06/29/2012

July 22, 2012

Silver Falls SP: South Falls

Near Sublimity, in Silver Falls State Park, South Falls Historic District and South Falls enchant (trail even goes BEHIND falls). There’s also a lodge and nature center. Further along scenic OR-213, there are trails to roughly a dozen additional falls scattered throughout this park.


Astronaut Don Pettit Mural… a nice tribute

Venture into Silverton whose Astronaut Don Pettit mural impresses me. Their American Legion – Masonic Lodge features murals of Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms”. Plus, how can you not like a town when they devote some 30’ of running fence to “Bobbie – the Wonder Dog” mural (dog traveled 3000 miles from Indiana to Oregon)


Frank-N-Stein’s Tavern… monster beer

Later, in Mt Angel, a definite Germanic flavor: Herren/Damen Public Toilet, Der Wiengarten, and Frank-N-SteinTavern. There’s also an ersatz ethnicity Bavarian hotel (tho have suspicions about their weinerschnitzel).

Upon on a hillside, St Mary’s Church dominates the skyline, while down Oak St, Mission of Holy Spirit offers an exquisite Cross of Apostolics. Just outside town, a very peaceful Benedictine Monastery, and further out, Mt Angel Abbey offers no distractions beyond bird calls.


Jesse Settlemier Home

Pass through Woodburn, and the scale of their Hispanic community (stores/homes/churches) surprises me. Pause to appreciate town founder Jesse Settlemier House… (“McMansions” have a LONG history?)

T/Blues: 06/28/2012

July 20, 2012

Salem proves a wonderful walking town.

Remain captivated by their train depot (speculate on leaving van in Salem and taking “commuter” train into Portland).


Willamette Heritage Center… old mill

Start with their fascinating Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill. It’s a collection of historical mission buildings, sited on a hand-built creek of narrow proportion to activate its mill.


Willamette Heritage Center… new commerce

Within, some mill facets remain, but a “new generation” of commerce also is apparent.

Continue onto 12th Street, with its cute Roxxy Theater, its long line of sturdy red-brick Willamette University “halls” stretching toward downtown.


State Capitol… front

Detour over to 9th to be impressed by gardens, fountains & decoration associated with state capitol building. Am amazed that surrounding Willson-Capitol Park remains nearly deserted.


Elsinore Theater… back alley mural (which can YOU name?)

At “downtown” core, am delighted that Elsinore Theater’s back-alley mural features screen stars of an earlier era. Along Commercial St, low-rise buildings charm & surprise: “Gallagher’s Fitness Center”?

Volunteers hang posters and put up large tents anticipating upcoming Salem’s upcoming “Waterfont Days”. At river’s edge, stern-paddlewheeler “Willamette Queen” rests before the onslaught.


Riverfront Park: Carousel… tile mural in Men’s Room

On a ridge, overlooking this river, a “Fly Fisherman” sculpture is a nice touch. Even my tired old “prostrate” (it’s laying down on the job) gland contributes… at their carousel, a tiled carousel horse graces men’s room wall.

(Have a sorta bizarre incident… can’t find a mailbox, so, step into police station [dare I report all Salem’s mailboxes STOLEN? I daren’t {a sense of humor is rarely a major prerequisite of police reumes}, but, oh, the temptation] to inquire whereabouts of post office. In line in front of me, a young woman states she’s there to pick up a package for “Dona K-A-E-M-F-K-E”. Mind boogling, as a SF friend is Janice Kaempke. Inquire, but Dona knows of no SF relatives.)


Willamette Mission MP… Civil War re-enactors setting up shop

Head out back roads toward Willamette Mission SP. Civil War re-enactors are setting up their “Quartermaster Shop” and a few personal tents are already visible.


Willamette Mission SP… Civil War re-enactors… bivouac

Walk trails to find that tho mission is gone, it is not forgotten. Alas, a chance to ride a “Toonerville Ferry” across the river is thwarted, as dredging is in progress.

Drive scenic OR-214, and, just outside Silverton, chase onto Gallon Bridge Rd: Gallon Covered Bridge and on into Sublimity to overnight @ Silver Falls SP

T/Blues: 06/27/2012

July 20, 2012

Take van over to local Firestone repair shop. A “break” job expands… and expands again. (Alas, there are no Pell Grants, or long-term loans available as Eugene’s economic status gets a big po$itive jolt in a single transaction.)

Offers a great chance to “hoof it” around town, so head off northwest (is there a pattern here?) and discover a bored young woman setting “places” at an alfresco dining area in semi-modernistic 5th St Mall.

“If it were me, I’d tell them to give more roles to women. Women would argue and posture less, and get more done. With men, they think with their balls all the time” she responds to my query.


Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson Home

A bit further out, hillside location (overlooking railroad tracks) and architecture of Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson House conjures up images of  Norman Bates’ home in “Psycho”.  Amtrak train arrives as does my realization “the other side of the tracks” is this marginal neighborhood of county jail, homeless “village” and impregnable local government offices (if government is laying off people, can homeless be housed in emptying buildings?)


The Bier Stein… mural persuasion?

Downtown Eugene fails to capture my enthusiasm, tho admit, wish Bier Stein was open just to discuss their side wall murals.

Lunch at Steelhead Brewery and my (innate? acquired?) curmudeonry is evoked anew as men sit eating wearing baseball caps (WHEN did men wearing caps indoors start? And WHY?), plus some well-dressed guys a couple tables over continually answering their cellphones (now, let me get this straight: do YOU own the cellphone? Or does the cellphone own YOU?)

Head over to Library to do Internet stuff, and am delighted that, as sunshine begins to pour in, an automatic screen descends over this huge window, allowing in SOME, but not overwhelming, light (lo, “John” of Grants Pass… o’ brave new world, that has such technology in it).

Pause briefly in Coburg to “straighten” car (find a “credit” to my “brake job”… mechanics left me a few tools), before going into Salem at dusk


Amtrak/Train Depot… dusk


Amtrak/Train Depot… vestibule

and being ABSOLUTELY charmed by their Amtrak station (not the biggest or most imposing… but possibly the loveliest in my memory: outside and in)

T/Blues: 06/26/2012

July 20, 2012

Caveman Bridge (US-199)… “show me the way to go home…”

Amble further around Grants Pass, and, where US-199 heads south, a sign at Caveman Bridge offers a reminder of home.

Spend some time listening to a couple in my age range discuss their “roots” with docent at Josephine County Historical Society. From Denver/CO, they hope to bring “family” to their 50th wedding anniversary, and to offer some family history. After they exit, “Jane” opines their kids and grandkids “will never follow up… it’s too distant… too remote”. She suggests “now, if they could do it on their cellphones…” (which reminds me of “John’s” anti-technology diatribe yesterday).

“Oh, I‘m too OLD for politics, anymore. There are still a couple LOCAL people I will vote for, but usually, vote for someone who has no chance” she answers. “Oh, JOBS, I guess… get a sense young people are afraid to take on ‘responsibility’ (tho they SURE take on DEBT) because they’re afraid of what the Future holds. My grandson’s college loans will probably end up roughly equivalent to what my late husband earned in a lifetime”.


Alma Schmidt Home/Museum… “outdoor plumbing”

Next door, at Alma Schmidt Home/Museum, memory chases back some 70 years, to a small, Dresher/PA farmhouse, at sight of an old hand pump on their back porch. (Guess we were lucky… ours stood on the edge of our kitchen’s double-sink so, on cold mornings, there was no danger of a hand freezing to a metal handle).


Grave Creek Covered Bridge

Continue up I-5, and at Sunny Valley, pull off and visit Grave Creek Covered Bridge. (It seems, among early European settlers, a young woman died and was buried. Her grave was moved when bridge built… thus its name.). Speak with a man from Bellingham/WA who has stopped after multiple “passing by” trips.  He recommends Canada-3 for my cross-continent caper, and admits to being a Canada Pacific RR buff. He’s caught a bit off-guard by “The Question” and  invites his wife over from her picture taking. She laughs and suggests “get interest rates on savings up”, but he repeats the “lower taxes and reduce the debt” contradiction.

Later, entering Eugene/OR (where Olympic Track tryouts have elevated motel prices to Olympian heights: Oh, my Zeus), local public radio announces Lane County is releasing 100 jailed prisoners “due to budget constraints” and “laying off a number of police” (fortunately, this anxiety-creating news is leavened with humor… a newly released prisoner is overjoyed “because the food they serve in there SUCKS”… shouldn’t there be an “entitlement program…?”)