an interesting oregonian observation

Monday, August 20th, 2007

folks here in portland don’t think it’s supposed to rain in the summer.

pretty much not at all.

i have learned since arriving here that summer is considered oregon’s best kept secret (oops!!), because everyone’s first reaction to the idea of living here is “but the rain!” and oregonians are just fine with encouraging that, because seriously, the summers are amazing – clear, dry, warm but not hot, berries so numerous as to be considered weeds, and rivers full of salmon and an ocean and mountains in which to play. not much more to ask for, really. it’s like california, but cheaper, and with fewer californians. and the californians are people like victor and sharon, and we like them. :)

the tradeoff (and the source of the weather stereotype) is that it rains all winter, but i prefer water that falls from the sky to water that just hangs in the air as humidity anyway, so that seems a better tradeoff so far than indiana summers, where it quite honestly feels as if air is something through which one must swim. also, the corollary of there being more rain than snow in the winter is that it doesn’t really get all that cold, which appeals to many. since i actually love the snow and embrace the cold as a good excuse to drink hot beverages and wear fuzzy clothes, i expect that if the rain annoys me it will not be because it will make the sky grey and the world wet, but because i will not be able to throw it at my friends or sled upon it. aforementioned mountains might help with that, though, so we’ll see.

in colorado, it rains every day in the summer. for five minutes. accompanied by booming thunder. and that is one of my favorite features of colorado. oregon is winning points with me for being less dry than colorado (yeah, i’m picky. colorado? too dry. indiana? too wet. oregon is like the baby bear of humidity.), as i appreciate things like moss and mushrooms and the ability to grow produce, but it loses points by not having thunderstorms. because that’s the other thing i didn’t know about the rain here. have i blogged this already? it rains a lot. but there are never thunderstorms. and this is very, very sad.

but anyway, yeah. in the summer? it’s not supposed to rain at all. i know this because it has been doing so this week a fair bit, and people are grumbly. you would think that rain would be such a part of life here that people don’t notice much, but apparently that is only because they know what they have to look forward to on the other side of the calendar, and it doesn’t take much to make them feel swindled. because it’s not even raining that much. drizzle, i would say. it is making our pre-burning man construction projects more difficult, but i have heard dismay from all of my local friends in all of their various undertakings, so it seems to be striking everyone as against the laws of nature.

which is an interesting reaction to the workings of nature, isn’t it?

off to run rainy errands i go.

what summer’s good for

Friday, July 27th, 2007

today i took advantage of two of the key features of my current situation:
a) i have a flexible schedule
b) i am in portland
and i went on a walk. for several hours. in places with lots of trees.

you may not know this, but portland is home to the largest urban forest in the united states. i wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know that, because i actually didn’t know it either. word on the street is that it’s the largest urban park in the united states, forested or otherwise, but in researching for this post, wikipedia schooled me otherwise. which is why wikipedia is a good resource, and fact checking your stories is a good thing. :)

it’s really ok that it’s not the biggest park in the country, because portland also has the smallest park in the world, which was founded to serve as a leprechaun colony, and i think that more than makes up for lower marks in any other park-related contests. i only learned this factoid a few days ago from justin, who is in corvallis for the summer and wants to come up to town to hang out with the cool kids, and i thank him for the heads up. :)

portland has a lot of parks of all sizes, really, which is one of the things that makes it a great place to live.

anyway, our urban forest is cleverly named forest park, and it is actually the fourth largest urban park in the country, so that’s nothing to be ashamed of (and central park is not one of the top three, which surprises people). forest park is over 5,000 acres big, with about 70 miles of trails, and much of the park is old growth forest. it connects right up to washington park, which is a neat place, too, being the home of the international rose test garden, the portland zoo, and hoyt arboretum, which is kind of like a tree zoo. there are several miles of trails with different sorts of trees planted throughout and some edumacational signs, so you can learn about said trees. it’s fun to go on the flowery tree trails in the spring and the leafy tree trails in the fall. :)

anyway, today i went to the bank, and while i was out i decided it was way too nice a day to not keep walking for a while. it has been surprisingly humid here lately, so walking outside during the day has tended to grow tiresome, but today was warm and clear without a lot of humidity, so it was a perfect day for walking, particularly in places with shade. like urban forests!

i decided i would take the train into washington park and walk until i wanted to stop, with the vague intention of making my way along the wildwood trail, which starts right above the zoo, goes through the whole of washington park, climbs up to pittock mansion (where one of the best views of the city is to be had), and then dives into forest park. the trail runs for a total of 30 miles, switchbacking along the ridge that runs next to highway 30, which skirts the edge of the lower columbia river and eventually leads to mt. st. helens.

i didn’t walk 30 miles, but i did walk through the redwood and piney sections of the arboretum (and they smelled good! particularly the cypresses near the beginning) up to the mansion and into forest park, which i have been meaning to explore for a long time. the benefit of this route was that it would theoretically spit me out somewhere not too far north of my house, which means i would have made a great big loop, and i wouldn’t have to walk back through downtown to get home. the problem was i had never really tested this theory and didn’t have a map of all those trails, but i figured there would be a map somewhere near the entrance to the park and i could wing it. i was halfway right, because there was a map, but the inch or so around the rightful home of a “you are here” icon was rubbed off by too many fingers jabbed excitedly at the marvel of cartographic representation, so all of the intersections that would have been helpful to me were gone.

there was enough information, however, to tell me that i was right to believe it was possible, so i just started walking in the general direction i wanted to go. i took a few wrong turns and ended up in some ritzy subdivisions that weren’t my aim, so i did a fair bit of doubling back, but it worked out in the end. i actually went somewhat out of my way because i thought that i had gone too far and decided to cut through the subdivisions rather than risk having to backtrack a lot and then still have to figure out where the hell i was before dark, but it turns out i was just on a Really long switchback and i should have had faith. the way i took actually worked out really well, though, and gave me a tour of some nice neighborhood streets and showed me a park with a playground and some baseball diamonds that is only a handful of blocks from my house.

my route was vaguely similar to this, though i took the train for the part going across the highway into the park, and the part through the parks was nothing at all like those neat straight lines. the trail is all zigzag, all the time, so it was easily two or three times longer than the pedometer shows, but i didn’t want to fiddle with trying to recreate it. given that i walked pretty solid, yet in nothing like a hurry, for at least three hours, i would guess i traveled somewhere around 10 miles.

so good day.
and now my feet are tired.

unfortunately, though i know victor will shake his head and think less of me, i didn’t bring my camera because i need a new memory card and am annoyed at this fact, and when i get annoyed about things like that i actually tend to procrastinate resolving them for a while until i realize how silly i am being. it’s a shame, too, because the trees and berries and critters were purty, and the day was clear enough to see all the mountains – hood, st. helens, rainier, and adams – from the overlooks in washington park and from pittock mansion.

i’ll just have to do it again sometime. and you should come visit. it’s a good place to be.

weekend lessons

Monday, June 11th, 2007

i put 350 miles on a rental car this weekend going to celebrate victor’s birthday in eugene with a contra dance and multi-threaded conversationing, and on my way back i meandered through willamette and mt. hood national forests to take advantage of the car and get to know my way around a bit better. it was fun. i like going on trips. here are some things i learned.


  • the rental car place down the street from you has half-price weekends and that means it only costs $15/day to rent a compact car. this is both exciting and dangerous.
  • victor is a good painter, and will one day be a right lovely contra dancer.
  • eugene seems like a place you could enjoy getting to know better.
  • remember to take pictures when you visit people.
  • coconut bliss needs no description.
  • you think it might be nigh on time to move into a big house of people again.
  • sunday:

  • you remembered how to do the one part of the last tier of the rubik’s cube, but forgot how to do the Other part. seriously. knuckle down and just actually figure it out already.
  • you used to think it scared you, but really, you get a kick out of the strategizing required to drive on roads that aren’t really two cars wide.
  • if there is any chance that you will spontaneously decide to go camping while on a given journey, bring a hat. even in the summer.
  • ditto for gloves. the waterproof ones.
  • the new tent is very waterproof, and the mesh circulates the air beautifully, but the side effect of this is that it does not contain much heat. wear warm clothes to bed.
  • on that note, if you decide to engage in any sort of behavior that has even the remotest chance of leading to an unintentional plunge into a body of water, consider not wearing the warmest items of clothing that you have with you.
  • similarly, do not engage in any sort of behavior that has even the remotest chance of leading to an unintentional plunge into a body of water when there is no one else with you. doing so will lead you to feel that you are needlessly depriving your mother of rest.
  • next time, go somewhere that involves more walking, and use your powers to summon stargazing weather.

tomorrow night i fly a redeye to indiana to meet up with renee and head down to bonnaroo. i’ll try to post tomorrow before i leave, but if not, see you in a week!

Modeling my impromptu hat