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Sunday, November 13, 2011


When I arrive at approximately 10:30 P.M., maybe 30 or 40 tents are still present. A large group of demonstrators are gathered under the large tarp in Chapman Square listening to various speakers, but not much else is going on.

I walk around Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. The police presence is minimal with groups of 4 or five officers at block corners and attending the giant light/generators that have been brought in to illuminate the parks.

Evidently, Tea Party demonstrators haven't cornered the market on poor spelling.

As the announced deadline for evacuating the camp draws closer, more and more people begin filtering into the park blocks and lining the streets facing the parks, particularly 3rd street. Some people have come to serve as witnesses, some join the ranks of the demonstrators in the park, some have come to express their displeasure with the demonstrators, and some, like ghoulish NASCAR fans, have come to see what they hope will be a violent spectacle.

Mounted patrols circle the park and generally park themselves at points where it appears crowds may spill into the streets. The streets have not been closed and as police arrive, their first tasks seem to be to keep the streets clear and traffic moving.

Now and then,  tents are taken down and folded as the deadline nears.

 Eventually, clusters of demonstrators fill the sidewalks and overflow into Main Street, the street that separates Chapman Square from Lownsdale Square.

Several groups serve to remind participants and spectators that the intent is for this to be a peaceful demonstration.

The crowd keeps swelling. The sidewalks lining Third Street fill up with people and they spill into the street about three people deep. The police don't have enough people to cordon off the sidewalk and so a lane of traffic is lost.

 The Justice Department Building is transformed into a giant set of bleachers.

Starting at 11:00 PM, members of a bicycle rally begin circling the parks.

About two hours after the deadline, it felt like a stalemate - the police seemed content
to keep the bulk of the demonstrators contained in the park blocks. It didn't appear as if they could afford to escalate.

However, I noticed the mounted patrol appeared to be staging for action, and a line of police cars stretched down 2nd avenue on the other side of the Justice Building.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Million Pictures of the Same Thing: Mt. Margaret Hike via Norway Pass Trailhead

 Mt. St. Helens from Clearwater Viewpoint.

The original question was, did I know of any good hikes that would showcase fall foliage…

…which makes it hard to understand how I arrived at the Norway Pass trailhead, a landscape that intermittently looks as if it has been decorated by nuclear explosions.

The first part of the trail ascended the shadowed side of a ridge that provided just enough cover to keep huckleberries cool to the taste. 

Boundary Trail #1 dances on the ridges surrounding Mt. St. Helens’ northern blast perimeter.

Some patches of scrubby vegetation are sensitive to the season and erupt in fire-like reds and yellows.

Unexpected landscapes evoke the sensual: Lush grass meadows of the Alps, fresh goat’s milk, and Heidi’s sweet-smelling bed in her grandfather’s hayloft.

Warm fingers of light dry my sweaty brow, and confronted with such beauty, I dare to search the heavens for some promise that the god of deluges will not destroy with fire again…but no bow appears.

A cloud materializes from the lake…a spirit.

With the passing of the sun, the sky’s mood darkens, but in an act of autumn grace, remains benign.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

False Dichotomies: Labor Day...vacation.

A sliver of impotent moon puttered so peripherally on a path near the southern horizon that normally shy stars blazed – emboldened - as they spun and twirled in their 14 billion year old cosmic dance - not even tired yet.

A waxing crescent moon didn’t present much of an impediment to seeing the Milky Way stretching across the apparent dome of the sky. I affixed my camera to the tripod and set it up for a long exposure only to find that I hadn’t brought my remote shutter release. To get an exposure longer than 30 seconds, I’d either have to hold the shutter with my finger (which kind of defeats the purpose) or get creative with band aids and cardboard. I managed to get this four minute exposure before the band-aids unstuck themselves.

* * *

Like anecdotal stories of old time buffalo herds covering the plains, Winnebagos so numerous they can’t be counted inundate the Columbia Gorge – fleeing from smoke filled, sweaty cities. It is almost as if it were the last day to camp… ever. Overnight, a sanctuary for coyotes and ravens is transformed into a crowded metropolis where rangers (and later, cops) argue circularly and at great length with belligerent drunks.  As a muted sun in a copper sky sinks behind canyon walls, the ignition of thousands of Coleman lanterns makes a collective sound like a windstorm. Even so, at dawn, I find an island of calm away from the sea of suggestibles – the restless crowd conforming to the dictates of twelve month calendars (of which I’m evidently a part, or would be if I used a calendar.)

Sinewy trees, blackberry stickers, scrubby burr shedding bushes and jettisoned rim rock line the shore like an immigration fence. In time, I find a gap.

* * *

A fierce defensive arsenal suggests that something precious is at stake -something worth protecting – something worth taking.

Grass firmly rooted in the sloping ground beneath sheer basalt cliff-faces has turned the color of straw. Gusting winds comb it over in the haphazard fashion favored by balding men. I subconsciously direct my feet to find purchase in windblown zigzag ‘parts’, but the shafts of grass are slick and wind polished and the slope is steep and before I understand the danger my feet slip out from under me. No damage this time and looking around furtively to see if there are witnesses, I tell myself I’ll have to be more careful.

I struggle to my feet, take two more steps and fall again, harder than before, and slide into a patch of cactus. Like some enraged porcupine, they quill me. During the fall, when I tried to save myself – tried to balance… my right knee screamed and failed. So I lay there, quiet and still, postponing the pain-accounting, letting the hot sun soothe and console me…thinking maybe I’ll just wait until I get thirsty or hungry… or curious.

* * *

I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame the earth seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire--why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.

- William Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark (Hamlet act II, ii)

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~Buddha

* * *

Desert still lifes

* * *

The remnants of a plague of grasshoppers haunt patches of brittle golden grass atop barely stabilized dunes. They’d be all but invisible except for their tendency to jump in response to motion. They are very good jumpers, but not so good at planning. It never occurs to them to jump away from danger…they just jump. The result, as I limp along the slopes, is that I’m pelted with a fixed percentage of all the panicked grasshoppers reacting within an eight foot radius

I compare the grasshopper’s survival strategy with my own:
Stimulus         Grasshopper Response     Scott Response
Giants/Boss     Jump/Run away                Buy pizza/Eat pizza

* * *

It takes me more and more time to gain elevation, so when I see deer effortlessly bounce up the hillsides, I begin to suspect magic.

* * *

I’m looking for a particular rock painting. I’ve memorized a series of clues from an archeology book. I need to be able to see both Mt. Hood and Celilo Falls, but I can’t see Mt. Hood even after I reach the top of the west-most plateau. Perhaps smoke from the Dollar Lake fire is obscuring the horizon. Or maybe I am simply in the wrong place. From my vantage point I can see the railroad bridge west of Wishram. Obviously I can’t see the falls (they’ve been under water since the completion of The Dalles Dam) but I can see where they would have been.

An Army Corp of Engineers’ sonar scan of the area shows that the falls are still intact under the surface of the water.

* * *

Today, Hell’s Gate looks like heaven (if you like desert-like landscapes)…

…but just three months ago, the flow rate of the Columbia on the verge of flooding revealed echoes of long hidden rapids in the form of massive standing waves at the threshold to hell.

 Hell’s Gate. Not just an arbitrary name.

* * *

I’m unable to find the artwork I was looking for. But I do revisit previously found galleries. I sit and look and take photographs. I leave and return when the light changes and the shadows shift and look all over again. These sites look as if they were established locations that invited repeated artistic contributions. Images are painted in red, white, black, and some are even pecked, carved or scratched into the rock. Some images overlap. Are the overlapping images added story elements? Revisions? Historical Records? Signs? Arguments? Consensus? Reiterations of a culture’s treasured myths?  Is the common ray-arc symbol – that umbrella like feature over the heads of stick figures – supposed to remind us of the sun? Does it denote political or spiritual power? Is it a chief’s feathered head-dress? Does it suggest power? Is it good or bad?

The pecked stick figure with crowning ray-arc is more boldly represented in the rock than the spiral object at upper right. Which came first? Are the figures related? Is the spiral object really a spiral, or is it concentric circles? What are the rules for adding rays?

Mineral deposits and perhaps centuries of weather have contributed to the appearance of these paintings. Is the ray-arced figure entering into or emerging from light, or is that an accident of time – a spurious interpretation based on errant minerals. The ray-arced stick figure clearly has more head accouterments than the other figures in this grouping. Is it reasonable to deduce the ray-arc is a sign of status? Are they performing a jumping dance?

 Just beautiful.

 I challenge you not to look up.

A variation on a theme – a ray arc hat with nucleated rays.  Note also the stylistically different animal with tree –like antlers.

* * *

This area has a long history. Cattle grazed here. Evidently, wood fence posts were something of a luxury.

* * *

These small birds use fractured columnar basalt like other birds use trees. They seemed overly suspicious of my intrusion and continuously monitored my activity. I could not always see them, but I could hear their wings flutter as they darted about, striving always to be stealthy.

* * *

Exploring the shoreline, I discover a lone head of cabbage. I am certain it is not indigenous to this island so I try to account for its presence. My favorite theory is that, enroute from the cabbage farm to the sauerkraut factory, this head of cabbage managed a daring escape from the cabbage truck, perhaps timing a leap as the truck crossed a bridge, and somehow bouncing or rolling into the river where it swam to this bandit cave.

* * *

 The river shows off its kaleidoscopic vision of the shore.

Regularly spaced trees in single file suggest humans are repeatedly attracted to this area and can’t help but tinker.

* * *

 Upward pointing arrows...


* * *

* * *

The Dalles – Land of harsh light and grasshoppers
The Coast – Land of shrouded mystery and slugs

 Typically photogenic, the ocean manifests privacy issues over the holiday.

But I suppose I would be shy too if the entire metropolitan population of Oregon (except for those folks camping east of the Dalles) suddenly tried to park on my street.

 Cape Lookout sticks two miles out into the ocean…

 …not that I ever really saw the ocean.

 I finally found a hiking partner that I can keep up with.

 Not the best day for whale watching.

 Above the clouds, you can see all the way to the end of the world.

 Beneath the clouds at Cape Kiwanda.

Marine air sneaking inland through river valleys under cover of night.

The Narrative Image NAVIGATION AID

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