March 9, 2012
Greetings. Yes, it's been a while
since I've updated my website, but it's been an interesting year for me with
lots of changes -- and perhaps for you, too. Most notably, I recently
parted ways with my former company, Otak, where I had been their GIS
(computer mapping) manager since 2006. I'll tell you more about
that in my next update.
Until then, I
wanted to share with you a few stories of recent visits I had with guests at
my house in
Portland and my visit with an old friend in San Diego that you might find
amusing. I hope you enjoy it.
Room at the Inn
mentioned it in my website much, but I finally bought a house. That
was a few years ago and it's certainly been an adjustment after living in humble apartments
most of my life, but one reason I bought a house was so I could invite
friends and relatives to stay a while and be a host. I've stayed at other people's
houses so many times over the years and I finally wanted to return the
getting a pool table (a must for any bachelor), one of the first things I
did after buying my house was furnish the guest room, and after several
trips to Ikea, I can proudly say: mission accomplished! Then I sent out
my New Address cards to my friends and relatives, inviting them to come and
visit. As I told them, there was definitely Room at the Inn.
Folks started taking me up on my invitation
in 2010. My first overnight guests were my niece
Christina and her husband, Michael, who I visited in Tucson after their
wedding a few years ago, which I described in my
July 2009 update. Eager
to escape the summer heat in Arizona, they came up to Portland in June and spent a
weekend at my house, and we had a great time. I'd gone to Macy's just
before they arrived and ordered a guest bed, which fortunately arrived just
before they did, and earlier that week I bought a barbecue grill, though it
was still in the box in the garage. Oooh, yes, I have a garage now.
What a concept.
On Saturday, I showed
Christina and Michael around downtown Portland, then on Sunday, I took them out to the Columbia
River Gorge, where the mighty Columbia River cuts through the Cascade
Mountains. It's a spectacular area dotted with numerous scenic waterfalls and
amazing vistas. After our tour, we returned to my house, put together
barbecue grill, and had the very first grilled chicken
ever served at Del's Inn. I need to work on my grilling technique,
though, because it was more "blackened chicken" than barbecued chicken, but
we had a good time and it was wonderful to see them again.
Crown Point (right) is the entrance to the Columbia River
Gorge, where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains. That
building is the Vista House. Beacon Rock, on the left, was named by Lewis
& Clark who paddled through here in 1805 on their way to the Pacific.
Above center: Here's the
Vista House, a visitor center built in the early 1900's and the gateway to the
gorge. There's a little museum downstairs and the balcony upstairs
provides a great view.
And here's the
view from the Vista House. The Gorge extends about 30 miles, from east
Portland to the town of Hood River. The original highway through the gorge
opened in 1922 and was an engineering marvel for its time, and one of the first
paved highways in the U.S.
My niece Christina and her husband Michael, from Tucson.
That's Mt. Hood in the background. This is at the Larch Mountain
viewpoint, where you can also see snowcapped Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt.
At 11,240', Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon.
It's snowcapped year-round.
Christina and me at Bridalveil Falls. With all the waterfalls, ferns, and
trees, I'm sure this was just a bit different than
There are dozens of waterfalls in the gorge, including
this one, Wahkeena Falls. You could spend days here exploring them all.
Above center: Here's the highest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah Falls.
Combined, the upper and lower falls are about 1,000 feet high.
Having dinner back at my house that evening. We'd
just assembled my new barbecue grill and tried it out. My "blackened
chicken" was truly unforgettable -- as hard as they try, they can't forget
it. But fortunately my grilling skills have improved
since then. Really.
My Friends from Minnesooooda
My second overnight
guests arrived at the Inn a few months later in the fall. My old friend Mark and his wife
Jayne (see August 14, 2001 ) flew out from Minnesota (eh?) and spent some time with
me. Mark hadn't been to the Northwest in many years and this was Jayne's very
first visit. I wish the weather had cooperated, though, because it was drizzly
during much of their visit and we only got one peek at nearby, snowcapped Mt.
Hood, but they still had a good time.
I took them to the
Oregon coast one day and they were intrigued with Astoria and especially, being
film buffs, the countless movies that were made there. Astoria is a city of about 10,000
with a fascinating history. I've traveled all over the U.S. and I think
Astoria is probably the most interesting city of its size in America.
The city is at the mouth of the Columbia River, and Lewis
and Clark stayed in this area for several months after they reached the Pacific
Ocean in 1805, the first white men to explore the Pacific Northwest. The
town of Astoria was established shortly afterwards, in 1811, making it the
first American settlement on the west coast. And it's one of only two places on the
U.S. mainland that was attacked by the Japanese during World War II, when a
submarine harmlessly lobbed a few shells at nearby Fort Stevens one night in
1942. The other place that was attacked, in case you were wondering, was
down near Santa Barbara with basically the same result.
Much more importantly as
far as Mark and Jayne were concerned, though, Astoria is where "Kindergarten Cop"
and "The Goonies" were filmed and a host of other movies, including "Short
Circuit." For some reason, Mark and Jayne were especially intrigued with "The
Goonies," although they've never actually seen the movie, and we spent much of
the morning visiting sites that appeared in this movie that they've never seen.
That includes the jail, which is now a Visitor Center, and the house where
"The Goonies" was filmed. Actually, there weren't any signs pointing to the
actual Goonies house and thus we weren't really sure which of several houses it
was. But it didn't matter much to Mark and Jayne, because just being in
the vicinity of Goonie History gave them goosebumps. Mark and Jayne left Portland later that week
totally pumped and determined to watch
"The Goonies," though I told them not to get their hopes up too much.
On their final day
here, they wanted to see Mt. Rainier, a beautiful 14,000-foot snowcapped volcano, because
apparently there aren't too many of those things in Minnesota. It was a cloudy
morning so I warned them we might not be able to actually SEE the mountain, but
I'd be happy to drive them there, and that's what I did. It's about a
three-hour drive north of Portland towards Seattle and while we enjoyed the Mt.
Rainier Visitor Center, the visibility outside was about, oh, 15 feet.
Nevertheless, a ranger pointed in the foggy mist in the general direction of the
mountain and assured us that it really was up there somewhere.
It was great to see
Mark and Jayne again, we had a nice time, and I enjoyed being their tour
guide. And if it's foggy the next time they drive me around Minnesota, I'll
tell them that their cornfields remind me a lot of, well, Mt. Rainier.
Mark and Jayne with gliders at the Astoria column, where
we tossed them from the top.
Above center: Astoria,
Oregon, where the Columbia River (right) meets the Pacific Ocean. Founded
in 1811, Astoria was the first American settlement on the west coast. More
notably for some folks, including Mark and Jayne, it was also where Steven
Spielberg filmed, "The Goonies."
That's Mark under Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River
Gorge. The trail goes behind the falls.
We also hit the central Oregon coast and had lunch at historic
Mo's, my favorite place in Newport.
Darlingtonia are like venus fly traps and live in only a few places on the
coast, like here north of Florence.
Cleawox Lake at Honeyman State Park near Florence on the
central Oregon coast. The sand dunes
in this area are massive and seemingly go on forever. Not quite like
After hiking for a mile, we reached the beach, kicked back
a smoked salmon lunch.
Above center: We went to
Mt. Rainier National Park one day, but sadly, this was the only mountain we saw.
Enjoying the "view" at Mt. Rainier. The rangers
promised us the mountain was up there somewhere.
Sharks? What Sharks?
between my visits from Christina & Michael and Mark & Jayne, I flew down to San
Diego for a weekend to visit my old friend, Troy, and his wife Carlye. Troy,
Mark and I have been good friends ever since junior high, when we sat together
at lunch every day and talked about baseball cards and debated the Nixon-McGovern
presidential race of 1972. I came out on the short end of those debates
and the election, too, but I got my redemption a couple years later with this
thing called Watergate. But no matter, our different political leanings
have never swayed our friendship, something today's politicians could perhaps
I hadn't been to Troy's house since 2001 (see
June 14, 2001), but he said he had plenty
of Room at the Inn, so I packed my bags. I flew down on a
Friday and, after a stop for a burger with Troy and his kids, we headed out to a short, par-3 golf
course where Troy and I have played golf for longer than I can remember. Troy has three
kids, sons Logan and Ty and a daughter, Renee, and I was in luck because it just
so happened that this particular weekend, Renee was playing in a soccer
tournament. Well, actually she plays in a soccer tournament every weekend,
including Christmas and Thanksgiving, so maybe I wasn't so lucky. But I really
like watching soccer and enjoyed watching her play several times that weekend,
and had fun watching Ty play in a basketball game one evening, as well.
The highlight of
the weekend, though, was something Troy had been planning for a while. He had
read in the San Diego newspaper about a swarm of leopard sharks that cluster in
the ocean in nearby La Jolla cove. The sharks are harmless, but he was intrigued that
you could wade in the ocean and be surrounded by a whole slew (no, that's not
the right term. A pod? A pride? whatever) of sharks.
So on Sunday
morning, the three adults -- apparently the ones without much sense --
got up extremely early and went to the beach, arriving there around 8 a.m.
Being a night owl, I don't get up that early for much of anything on a Sunday,
even if my house is burning down, but I figured this was going to be something
unique. I'd swam with nurse sharks off the coast of Belize before but never
leopard sharks in ritzy La Jolla, and Troy said he'd never swam with sharks at
all. On that very chilly, drizzly morning, we waded out into the very chilly,
drizzly surf and began our search, but with no luck. Twenty minutes later, with
my teeth chattering, I suggested we throw in the towel -- well not literally,
because the towel was up on the beach -- but we gave up and never did see a
leopard shark or a nurse shark or any kind of shark.
But I learned the
next day after I'd returned to Portland that the sharks may have seen us. Troy
sent me a link to a story in the San Diego newspaper, saying that swimmers had
spotted one and possibly two great white sharks (no, make that Great White
Sharks) that same morning in La Jolla cove, right where we'd been swimming. So
the next time Troy suggests we go swimming with the sharks, I'll stay on the
beach as he wades through the water. But being the good friend I am, I'll offer him
lots of encouragement.
Golfing with my lifelong friend, Troy, and his kids, Renee and Ty. Troy
and I have played golf at this little 9-hole course in San Diego for 25 years.
Nine bucks for a round of golf, such a deal.
Above center: In high
school, Troy always beat me at golf. He still does.
His daughter Renee (in red) played in a soccer tournament
that weekend and we watched every game. It was a lot of fun.
Troy, the master chef. No blackened chicken here.
Above center: In search
of sharks, Troy's wife Carlye wisely decided not to join us. Neither did
On Sunday afternoon, Troy and I visited the aircraft
carrier USS Midway in downtown San Diego. I've visited lots of U.S. Navy ships and submarines
over the years,
but never an aircraft carrier. It was great.
See my new website, www.ExtremeGeographer.com
February 27, 2011:
The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics
January 7, 2010:
Belize Trip #4 (Building an Orphanage for Jaime and Nancy)
July 29, 2009: A
Wedding in Tucson
and a Road Trip to Montana
April 18, 2009:
Belize Trip #3 (Building a School with NYU)
January 24, 2009:
Abu Dhabi and a Road Trip in Oman
January 5, 2009:
Belize Trip #2 (Two Schools and an Orphanage)
6, 2008: Around the World in Eight Days (Part 2: Abu
Dhabi to Portland)
6, 2008: Around the World in Eight Days (Part 1:
Portland to Abu Dhabi)
February 20, 2008:
The San Antonio School (San Ignacio, Belize)
February 17, 2008:
The Succotz Library (San Ignacio, Belize)
February 16, 2008:
Belize it or Not (San Ignacio, Belize)
May 28, 2007: Oregon
Bound (Portland, Oregon)
August 7, 2005: Back To
Work (Redmond, Washington)
June 25, 2004: Life
in Bellingham (Bellingham, Washington)
December 7, 2003: The Greatest Generation (Bellingham, Washington)
March 28, 2003: My Father (Bellingham, Washington)
October 30, 2002 (Bellingham, Washington)
July 24, 2002 (Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia)
July 12, 2002 (Lake City, Colorado)
July 4, 2002: Life as a Ranger, Part 2 (Lake City, Colorado)
July 4, 2002: Life as a Ranger, Part 1 (Lake City, Colorado)
July 1, 2002 (Looking Glass Rock, Utah)
June 25, 2002
(Lassen Volcanic National Park, California)
June 18, 2002: Part 2 (Port Orford, Oregon)
June 18, 2002: Part 1 (Port Orford, Oregon)
May 22, 2002 (Bellingham, Washington)
April 7, 2002 (Sydney, Australia)
April 4, 2002 (Coffs Harbour, Australia)
April 1, 2002 (Hervey Bay, Australia)
March 28, 2002 (Airlie Beach, Australia)
March 25, 2002 (Port Douglas, Australia)
March 16, 2002 (Winton, Australia)
March 13, 2002 (Alice Springs, Australia)
March 11, 2002 (Ayers Rock, Australia)
March 8, 2002 (Coober Pedy, Australia)
March 5, 2002 (Port Augusta, Australia)
March 1, 2002: Part 2 (Robe, Australia)
March 1, 2002: Part 1 (Robe, Australia)
February 18, 2002 (Bega, Australia)
February 7, 2002 (Auckland, New Zealand)
February 2, 2002: Part 2 (Taupo, New Zealand)
February 2, 2002: Part 1 (Taupo, New Zealand)
January 25, 2002 (Hokitika, New Zealand)
January 20, 2002 (Geraldine, New Zealand)
January 16, 2002 (Te Anau, New Zealand)
January 12, 2002: Part 2 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
January 12, 2002: Part 1 (Dunedin, New Zealand)
January 1, 2002: Part 2 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
January 1, 2002: Part 1 (Christchurch, New Zealand)
December 24, 2001 (Wellington, New Zealand)
December 20, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
December 16, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
December 14, 2001 (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)
December 10, 2001 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
December 3, 2001: Part 2 (Bellingham, Washington)
December 3, 2001: Part 1 (Bellingham, Washington)
October 18, 2001: Part 3 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
October 18, 2001: Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
October 18, 2001: Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
October 6, 2001 (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)
September 30, 2001: Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
September 30, 2001: Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
September 15, 2001 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
August 30, 2001 (Webster, South Dakota)
August 18, 2001 (Watertown, South Dakota)
August 17, 2001 (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)
August 14, 2001 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
August 10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
August 8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)
August 8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)
August 6, 2001 (Manlius, New York)
July 23, 2001 (Middleton, Massachusetts)
July 22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
July 20, 2001 (Pomfret, Connecticut)
July 18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
July 16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
July 14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
July 9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
July 8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
July 5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
June 30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
June 29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
June 27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
June 24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
June 20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
June 18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
June 15, 2001: Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
June 15, 2001: Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
June 14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
June 11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
June 2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
May 19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
April 30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
April 19, 2001 (Bellingham,
April 5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)