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Monday, February 18, 2008

WILSON RIVER MYSTERY: Footbridge Trailhead

Some of my colleagues headed out to fish on the Wilson River last Saturday. I thought it might be a good photo opportunity and planned to meet them somewhere between Lee’s Camp and the Footbridge Trailhead, but I forgot how early fishermen like to get up on weekends and I’m pretty sure they had gutted and cleaned their fish before I was even conscious that morning.

It didn’t escape my attention that a trailhead implies access to a trail. Soon, I found myself exploring a short section of the Wilson River Trail.

View from the footbridge – looking downriver

The river flows pretty quickly around a corner and into a kind of narrow rock throat that results in a variety of flow ratio phenomena like whirlpools and eddies and something that almost looks like boiling water. Knowledgeable fisher-people say things like, “Yeah, there’s a good ole’ hole there.” It is sometimes difficult to determine when fisher-people transition from talking about fishing to talking about sex.

There were signs that the amount of water in the riverbed had recently been much higher.

The Wilson River Trail might more appropriately be called the High Coast Range Trail That Never Affords a Glimpse of the Wilson River Unless It’s the Middle of Winter and There Aren’t Any Leaves on the Trees.

Eventually, I left the trail in order to get close to the river.

The direct sunlight was surprisingly warm. I sat on a rock next to the water and opened a beer. I was content to watch an underwater snail travel an inch or two. Some people had to settle for NASCAR

Later I found a tiny diagonally flowing waterfall.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

I noticed a strange carving in a rock along the trail. I wondered what people had populated this land in earlier times.

Detailed image of rock carving.

It was cold in the shade, and here and there were the tell-tale signs of winter – patches of snow hiding from the sun. I weaved my way through the woods and underbrush and broke into a hidden clearing.

Detailed image of clearing.

I’ve seen some strange things on my hiking trips this past year – or at least thought I saw strange things (Naked Picasso comes to mind) – but I was hard pressed to come up with a theory that would explain the presence of a barbell loaded with 400 pounds of weight in the middle of an empty clearing…

…and a carrot lying amongst a handful of rocks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Revelation @ Laurelhurst Park

Traffic on I-205

Coast – roll – roll


Bumper Cars at Oaks Park

Why don’t they make real cars more like bumper cars? The daily commute would become the highlight of the day and auto insurance companies would quickly go out of business.

I tell the Monkey-cam, “It’s a universal intuition. There must be something more to life than driving to and from work.”

Old tree at Laurelhurst Park

“That’s why on weekends, we go hiking to discover the tell-tale brushstrokes of some transcendent artist.” I added.

Trees at Laurelhurst Park

Monkey-cam agreed that there were many times when the world seems like a beautiful masterpiece.

Bench at East end of duck pond - Laurelhurst Park

“Still,” he pantomimed, “isn’t it enough that we’re alive and we can eat bananas and meet girls?”

“Well,” I replied, “the culture I was born into thinks it’s important how you do those things. For instance, we’re supposed to meet girls, not so much for fun, but (within the confines of holy matrimony) to reproduce and create more consumers to keep the economy growing.”

Monkey-cam looked incredulous.

“No, really,” I tried to explain, “a majority of Americans actually claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus (who turns out to have equal ranking with God) and they say they try to live their lives according to his will.”

“How do they talk to him?” Monkey-cam asked. “How do they know what his will is?”

“Well, most of them say they speak to him in prayer. But they also say that he speaks to them through his ‘word’, which turns out to be a collection of loose histories, poems, songs, stories, gospels and letters that Jewish people and, later, Christians collected over thousands of years.

“So he doesn’t really talk to them in any sense of the word ‘talk’?”

Scene from Lewis and Clark State Park

“Honestly, no.” I admitted. “It’s more convoluted than that. They have to interpret ‘the word’ and apply it to their lives. For instance, there’s a story that explains how rainbows are a promise from God that he won’t kill everybody again in another worldwide flood.”

T-Rex stalking old man in off-leash area of Laurelhurst Park

Monkey-cam was obviously uncomfortable. “That’s not much of a promise,” Monkey-cam signaled, “since someone/something as inventive and creative as God can undoubtedly find plenty of novel solutions to the task of worldwide genocide.”

“Would you like a piece of apple? Monkey-cam asked.

“Sure!” I said. “Let me stop at the store and I’ll get a sack full.”

Monkey-cam stretched out his hand with a wedge of apple in it. “No.” he gestured, “Just take this piece in my hand.”

We looked at each other for a moment, me with a somber look of sadness, Monkey-cam with the sudden realization that he was imaginary.

We sat in silence. It seemed like a long time.

“Look,” I said, trying to cheer Monkey-cam up, “you may not be as real as Real Jesus, but you’re every bit as real as Imaginary Jesus.”

I saw a little tear collect in the corner of Monkey-cam’s eye. He motioned that he wanted to go talk to his friend, Naked Picasso. “Naked Picasso understands me,” he signed.

Later, I saw Monkey-cam and Naked Picasso on a park bench at Laurelhurst Park, contemplating their situation.

I approached them quietly and was about to say hi, but they disappeared as if they had never been there.

Path through Laurelhurst Park

It left me alone to ponder my path. I wondered what I would do the next time I found myself in a dangerous photography situation without my longtime hiking companions. I had always felt certain, that when it came down to it, Monkey-cam would give his life for me.

Ember paths - traced from Jason and Julie's 'firepit'

Like sparks from a fire pit, we travel routes that, at least on the surface, seem like they ought to be easy to pre-determine within a natural framework, but because our understanding and capacity for observation are limited, the routes turn out to be unusual, unique and highly improbable. Evidently, given enough matter, rules, time and variables, properties emerge and dirt talks.

Overlooking Portland from the top of Mt. Tabor

We do the work of communication with a symbolic language that lends itself to metaphor. We speak from the ‘heart’ though we understand its primary function is as a pump.

From a bridge in Leavenworth Washington

Without any evidence, we postulate a soul – some essential essence of ourselves distinct from our physical bodies – that might bridge the chasm of physical death.

We write that words – ideas - are mightier than swords.

Bench at the top of the unleashed area - Laurelhurst Park

We populate the world with ghosts - from the depths of our inspired imaginations springs the Holy Spirit.

Imaginary Jesus and Monkey-cam at Laurelhurst duck pond

If only we could get the story right - maybe we could change the world.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Joe (in blue) found himself wishing the boat had emergency brakes.

Carbon dating reveals that some native rock paintings date nearly all the way back to the late nineties.

Early inhabitants carved elaborate toilet seats into the natural rock.

…also sinks.

Ruins of a temple pyramid provide evidence that the extent of the Mayan civilization has been severely underestimated.

Carved throne showing an unmistakable Atlantean influence

Carved throne - detail

Ripples in time

Ancient engineers drove these rings into large rocks. The large rocks were then hooked to UFOs, carved into shape by laser beams and utilized in the construction of huge pyramids.

Site of human sacrifice

Low cost housing

Front porch

Almost half as dangerous as Ali Baba’s 40 thieves

Patio with a view – watching the river run.

The Narrative Image NAVIGATION AID

Just a reminder:

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