A Cup of Tea and a Hank of Line

A cup of tea and a hank of line.
A cup of tea and a hank of line.

A few mornings ago, the Girl and I headed over to Edgewater Park on the Skagit River for an outing. We walked the perimeter of the park on both sides of the bridge (there’s a pedestrian underpass at the bridge abutment on the west side). The Girl was on squirrel patrol — gotta keep those bushytails at bay! She chased a couple of them, which gets her a good sprint into our walks.

It occurs to me that I should practice calling her off when she turns on. It would be a good skill for her to have — return from pursuit on command. I’ll add that to our practice routine. It will be fun, even if she doesn’t want to give up the chase.

On return to the rig, I decided to cook my breakfast right there. So, I got out my kit, retrieved some eggs from the cooler, and got things started. A single yellow jacket came in to investigate, but I shooed it away. I think the Girl got after it too, but I don’t know if she got it. (She really doesn’t like buzzies…)

Breakfast was good. While I ate, I put water on for a cup of tea. I made a nice cup of Earl Grey in my Yeti mug. While drinking my tea, I cleaned up a hank of rope I keep in the tail net of my rig. Sometimes I need a bit of rope to secure something. The hank had loosened in all our travels. So, I cleaned up the frayed end, made a figure-eight coil, and tied it off with a clove hitch. I liked the package, so I put it together with my mug for a still life.

Life is good.

Columbia River Gorge

On our way east, the Girl and I paused at an overlook for the view. This is the Columbia River Gorge and it is a place I will return to, God willing.
On our way east, the Girl and I paused at an overlook for the view. This is the Columbia River Gorge and it is a place I will return to, God willing.

Sunday morning we got in a decent walk, then loaded out our gear. Or, rather, I loaded out our gear. There wasn’t much, so it wasn’t a big job.

Breakfast wasn’t much — some rubbery scrambled eggs and a hard, cold, dry biscuit with a little canned sausage gravy. I saved back one of the sausages for the Girl. The free breakfasts are often worth what I pay for them. I’m occasionally surprised (as I was at the Oxford Suites in Portland), but not often.

We headed out, taking Interstate 5 to Vancouver (back to nearly where we started from), then Washington 14 east along the Columbia River. The highway parallels the Interstate on the south side, but I hate driving Interstate Highways, except when I absolutely have to get there quickly. The U.S. and state highways are far more interesting.

Washington 14 did not disappoint. I saw a lot of beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge. For this shot, I pulled off at the Cape Horn Overlook, dodging passing vehicles to get out of the rig. (The Girl stayed in the rig.) I managed a few captures of the view, paused a moment to take it in, and then we moved on.

Along the way, I stopped near The Dalles to watch the windsurfers play. Some use a sail; others use kits. It was fascinating to watch them play, a discordant dance on the roiling surface of the river. My friend Jimmy was right about this place. It is a place I should return to with a much longer lens, much earlier (or later) in the day, and with a tripod for stability. I think some interesting photographs could be made here. There is plenty of subject matter to work with.

It wasn’t long after that we drove out of the Columbia River Gorge. The landscape changed to a flatter, dryer world. The mountains gave way to plains, although the underlying volcanic history showed through the surface here and there.

Then came the grind. It was time to simply finish the drive and get to my destination, Spokane. So, that’s what we did. The outside temperature was between 95–100F, so it was time to use the rig’s air conditioner. The Girl will overheat if it’s too hot.

Eventually, we arrived in Spokane. I found us a place to stay. We found some food. We had a great play before the heat got to the Girl. We called it a day.

Columbia River

Saturday afternoon, the Girl and I drove west toward the Oregon Coast, looking for cooler air. I was tired for the heat and humidity of Portland afternoons. We never quite got to the coast (silly me) but on crossing the bridge to the Washington side, we were greeted with this beautiful view from a point where the Lewis and Park company sheltered in a storm.
Saturday afternoon, the Girl and I drove west toward the Oregon Coast, looking for cooler air. I was tired for the heat and humidity of Portland afternoons. We never quite got to the coast (silly me) but on crossing the bridge to the Washington side, we were greeted with this beautiful view from a point where the Lewis and Park company sheltered in a storm.

The Girl and I tired of the hot Portland afternoons. Saturday morning, as I assembled my gear, after a week of conference, I wondered whether to wander west or east. The call of the Pacific was in my head. (It still is.) I knew the air would be much cooler there, with the mass of cold ocean there. After refueling the rig and buying ice for the Yeti, the pull got me and we headed west on U.S. 30.

The drive wasn’t fast. We passed through many small towns. The river was always to our right. There are only a few bridges across the Columbia River in this stretch. It was warm, but the heat of the day had not yet come on, so we drove with the windows down. I just love the outside air.

We stopped in a small town for a place called Burgerville. I wanted to empty my bladder and get a bite before my blood sugar fell.

The young man at the counter was quite outgoing and pleasant. He walked me through the menu, so I bought a small cheeseburger, a small order of French fries, and a small strawberry shake. The food was all decent, although Sonic still has one of my favorite shakes (only a few places are better). Rested and fed, we headed back out on the road west.

As we drove farther west, the area became more rural. Then we hit Astoria and there was traffic. I suppose I was not the only one looking for cooler air. We made a pass at Fort Stevens, but it was late enough in the day that I didn’t want to pay the day use fee just to drive through. So, we headed back into town.

I knew it would be hopeless to find a room there, so we crossed the bridge to Washington State and turned back east. The north side provided enough shelter from the sea breeze (or sea wind) that the temperature was a few degrees warmer. At 75F, it was nearly perfect. We stopped at the rest stop on Washington 401 for a respite.

What I found is that the Lewis and Clark Company called the place Dismal Nitch. The sheltered (or what they could make for shelter) at this point near the end of their journey during a raging storm. I can only imagine the difficulty of that expedition. It made me wonder what it must have been like. It made me wonder whether I could have done something like that.

Relieved, we clambered back into the rig and headed east on the Washington side. Here we found fewer people and less traffic.

Finding a room was difficult, but I finally found one (an expensive room) in Kelso, Washington. It was clean and what I needed.

We walked across the mall entry to a place called Izzy’s for a bite. Izzy’s is a buffet-style restaurant, very reasonably priced, and they have a grill that will make a small sirloin steak. The staff made over the Girl, but were respectful of her duties. She relaxed under my table while I ate my salad and steak, knowing that I’d be bringing a treat for her supper along with us.

Tired, but satisfied and content, we returned to the room. I made her supper and then we played the game we nearly always do. The Girl is so into her food, especially when I add a bite of steak or chicken. We both laugh and laugh at the process. It’s also a good training opportunity. She has to wait for my command to “go” or she is held back. The tension in her is crazy and she is so funny. What a doll she is.

Marina Morning

There are so many boats along our Portland morning walks.
There are so many boats along our Portland morning walks.

We’ll walk our last time in Portland this morning. Then we’ll return to our hotel, feed, clean up, and load out. Then we’ll head east toward The Dalles and the Columbia River Gorge. I’m looking forward to poking around, seeing the sights, and perhaps finding a geocache or two. The Girl will be happy if she can be off-lead some of the time.

The Marina

This is one of the marinas the Girl and I walk by nearly every morning here in Portland.
This is one of the marinas the Girl and I walk by nearly every morning here in Portland.

The Girl and I wake early nearly every morning, even when traveling. Here in Portland, I found a walking path along the Columbia River not far from my hotel. We’ve been out and about just after sunrise almost every day this week. On some mornings, there is even sunshine.

When that happens, the morning light is gorgeous.

Crater Lake

My visit to Crater Lake was wonderful. I will return.
My visit to Crater Lake was wonderful. I will return.

On Monday, the Girl and I rose early, moved around a bit, and I fed us. I handled a conference call that might (hopefully) lead to some new work. I could use a couple of new projects on the books. Then we loaded out the rig and headed west to intercept the Crater Lake Highway.

As we approached the area, the nature of the geology (volcanic) was striking. I could go back here and spend several days exploring the area. Another visit to Crater Lake (so I could capture images at dawn and dusk) is also appropriate.

I pulled up to the entry gate, showed my “old man’s pass,” and drove on with a map and newsprint in hand. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to look around. But, I could tell that the park was getting busier as the morning aged. So, we drove off to catch East Rim Drive and take in the park.

I was astounded when we pulled off at the first access point. It was a short hike to the edge of the pit. The Native Americans are right — Crater Lake is a holy place. I could imagine the battle between Skell and Llao that they must have witnessed so long ago. That struggle would have been truly heroic.

We spent a couple of hours wandering along the east rim. Then we drove on towards Portland, where my conference is being held this week.

Clear Creek Trail

On Thursday morning, the Girl and I hiked the lower part of Clear Creek Trail, out in the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Area. What a great trail and one we'll visit again, Lord willing.
On Thursday morning, the Girl and I hiked the lower part of Clear Creek Trail, out in the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Area. What a great trail and one we’ll visit again, Lord willing.

Yesterday, the Girl and I hiked about eight miles along Clear Creek Trail. We didn’t make it all the way to Knob Point, which was about two miles farther than our turn-around. In the end, I’m glad we stopped when we did.

The trail was wonderful. It was a little warm on our climb away from the staging area with the morning sun on the east side of the hill. But the grade was easy and we kept the pace up.

The Girl hunted for lizards, ground squirrels, and rabbits. She’ll chase a cottontail rabbit, but knows that the jackrabbits can easily outrun her. She might take a few steps in pursuit, but it’s always halfhearted and she breaks off quickly. I love to watch her and I keep my eyes and ears open for rattlesnakes. I’m confident in her aversion training, but I want nothing to happen to her because of my inattention.

We passed a couple of draws and I marveled at the cool air flowing down from the ridgeline. It was cool in the shade of the granite outcrops and a nice contrast to the warm morning air.

The view from Clear Creek Trail.
The view from Clear Creek Trail.
Before long we passed our first pine tree. Soon we were in a pine forest near the north end of Jacks Valley. The ranch below was beautiful in the morning light.

We hiked on another mile or so. When we were about two miles from Knob Point, I decided to pause, drink a little water, offer some to the Girl, and turn around. We were four miles out and that would make an eight-mile hike, which would be our longest to date. I didn’t know how either of us would feel on our way back. The prudent part of me thought it best to turn around. The adventurer part of me wanted to go on to the point.

The prudent won.

So we started back. Along the way, I paused a couple of times to look around. I found a benchmark hidden (sort of) in a cluster of boulders. I’ll bet it was difficult to setup a tripod over that mark. I’m confident that electronic surveying methods were used, but it was still a difficult setup.

When we were about a mile from the rig, the Girl started showing signs of heat. She will pause, paw some sand up under a shady sagebrush, and lie down to cool off. It was about 80F, but I think the combination of temperature and sun get to her. She’d had water, so I knew she was hydrated. She was just hot.

So, we double-timed a good part of the last mile. She doesn’t like me to get ahead of her when I’m moving. Heh… So off we went.

It took us about 15 minutes to make the remaining distance back to the rig. She drank the water I offered. Then she hopped into the back and crashed in the furniture blanket I use to hide the contents of the rig. It was OK.

This not-quite-a-selfie (that's my shadow) view of Clear Creek Trail and the north part of Jacks Valley caught my attention. What a great hike.
This not-quite-a-selfie (that’s my shadow) view of Clear Creek Trail and the north part of Jacks Valley caught my attention. What a great hike.
We made eight miles yesterday… our longest hike yet. I think I had another mile or two in me, so I know that I can make the Knob and back. But, I also know I’ll have to wait for cooler weather or we’ll have to start much earlier to avoid the heat. The Girl just can’t handle the heat and I want to protect her from heat exhaustion.

What a great hike and a great day. I’m thankful.

Dawn on the Mountains

Walking along Carson River is such a blessing early in the morning. I'm blessed to see such sights and appreciate the time with the Girl.
Walking along Carson River is such a blessing early in the morning. I’m blessed to see such sights and appreciate the time with the Girl.

When we’re walking early by the Carson River, I’m sometimes startled by the light on the Prison Hill ridge. On this morning, the puffy white clouds provided a counterpoint to the warm sunlight on the mountains. It was enough to capture my eyes and my heart.

I’m truly thankful for such sights as these. I’ll never tire of seeing the sunrise on the mountains.

Carson River Walkies

The Girl and I were out early one morning for walkies. We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the Carson River.
The Girl and I were out early one morning for walkies. We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the Carson River.

The Girl and I are out and about almost every morning. At this time of the year, the best time to walk is very early. When we get out at dawn, the temperature is in the mid- to upper-50s. It’s chilly to start the walk in shorts and a t-shirt, but I do. Of course, the Girl is practically naked (Naked Girl!!!), but she’s always on the move and doesn’t seem to mind her nakedness.

I’m blessed by the cool morning air, the exercise, and the opportunity to see the sunrise. On those mornings when there are a few clouds, the sight can be breathtaking. The morning I made this capture is one such morning. I was listening to my morning meditation while walking along with the Girl. My steps provided a cadence for focus. My eyes were up and looking around at God’s creation, thankful for witnessing the waking of the world.

Lanyard Making

I made a lanyard (turkshead knot with a diamond stopper knot) for my Marlinspike. I enjoy working with cordage and lanyards are useful additions to many pieces of equipment.
I made a lanyard (turkshead knot with a diamond stopper knot) for my Marlinspike. I enjoy working with cordage and lanyards are useful additions to many pieces of equipment.

A few weeks ago I started playing around with paracord. I always have a bit of paracord on my person. It’s one of the Five C’s.

Lanyards are useful for keeping gear attached to one’s body or kit. I decided to make one for my Marlinspike, even if I don’t normally carry it in my kit. It was my first lanyard and I enjoyed the Zen-work of making it. I learned a few things in the process, as well.

I need to make some lanyards for my multitool (which I do carry in the field) and a fixed-blade knife that stays in my field kit. I might try a three-bight design of the turkshead knot. There are many other patterns as well.

This is good for me. I like it.

N.B. and Edit: A friend pointed out an error — it’s a Marlinspike, not a Martinspike. I can only attribute my error to old eyes, which sometimes have a difficult time reading what I see on the screen. Or, perhaps is just that I’m old. [grin]

There’s an useful article on Wikipedia about the Marlinspike. I bought mine through Amazon (that evil empire) from a favorite vendor, Bored Paracord.