Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 29, Astoria: Reflected sunset

Reflected Sunset, Astoria, OregonIt was such a beautiful evening along the River Walk, and the sunset seemed to go on forever. Below you can see more of the pictures (including this one again, since I'm creating a separate post for my entry in the first "Reflections on Saturday" photomeme :) I think the orange, puple, pink, and gray all look pretty cool together.

NOTE, October 3, 2009: I decided not to pursue running a Reflections meme, because I really don't have the time, so I was thrilled to see James start one. Please check out Weekend Reflections and participate if you can!

April 29, Astoria: Gorgeous sunset tonight!

It's been pretty nice with the sun out, although it's still very cold for April. It looks nice, and I step out with "just" a sweatshirt and run back for my winter jacket, even on a day like this. The tree, by the way, is still firmly anchored horizontally in the pilings.

The little patch of garden is doing nicely. The columbine is blooming.

The ranunculus (red) and wallflower (yellow) are doing well, and the purple sage is looking good. The horsetails are also coming up. Technically, they're weeds, but I'll let them stay for a little while. I enjoy the green and they're such interesting ancient plants. There's something with a broad leaf that I should take out soon, some stray grass, and a few dandelions. I saw Jim pour vinegar over the dandelions around the edges of the building, and I was astonished. I'd never tried that (I have a whole litany of things I did try in a former life that didn't work, and another list of things I didn't try because I didn't want to poison the yard). Well, it worked! White vinegar for weeds! It's non-toxic, and it's cheap, too.

The clouds came and went today in a typical pattern of Astoria on an inconclusive day. I loved the shades and lines here, and I have a thing for peeling buildings when they look as cool as this does.

I worked late, as usual, and when the sky began to turn orange, I left for the gym with camera in hand. You never know what the sky will do. It had been raining, and everything was wet, but the clouds were thinning out. I took this from the Sixth Street Viewing Platform.

This was the view facing the other direction (up-river). Lovely colors.

I walked a little way down the River Walk and found this nice reflection before I turned back. I was planning to drive in the direction of the bridge anyway (just barely visible in the lower right of the reflection).

It was worthwhile. It was still and quiet, just a little damp from the rain, but not much. Only another photographer and a dog-walker were about on the River Walk behind the Holiday Inn Express.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26, Astoria: The good, the bad, and breakfast at The Pig

For the fourth photo on my new project, the Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo blog, I was looking for something quintessentially Astoria, something representative of the whole town on its hill - the trees, the buildings, the scope. I thought I might get it from the Safeway parking lot, as we were going to Starbucks anyway for coffee. But I found that what was quintessentially Astoria was the fact that the nice view was marred by power lines and bad lighting. I zoomed the lens and got a photo I liked (above), but it didn't give the essence of place that I was looking for.

Astoria is such a hodgepodge of the strikingly beautiful and the maddeningly, stupidly ugly. I guess what city isn't, but I notice it here because - I guess because the damage feels so much greater than other places I've been. I can examine the reasons later. What I was looking for here was the idea that when the sun comes out, the events seem to blossom. Astoria has stuff going on all the time, but the outdoor events are ready to pop now that the sun is out. Both Astoria and Warrenton were packed full with the Crab, Seafood and Wine Festival running from Friday through Sunday, and a classic car show in Warrenton. I loved seeing that the Astoria Sunday Market will be starting again on Mother's Day, but I don't know the date. I didn't know there were boating classes, but of course there would be, I'd just never thought about it. Their slogan on the sign ("Boating is fun - Safe boating is more fun") is certainly a good one for our current-filled river. It's good to know these things, but look what we've allowed to happen to our special vista. It's awful.

We'd gone to The Pig (technically The Pig 'n' Pancake) because we wanted a cheap breakfast with some eggs in it, and we didn't want to cook. It seems everyone attending the various events had the same idea. It was crowded, but the wait wasn't too long. Lee decided to color while we waited for Laurel, Teagan, and Jen to arrive. And he kept on until he finished. The crayons in the cup were distinctly limited: purple, orange, yellow, and something dark. He stuck to the orange and purple. Probably a good idea.

Nice work in progress.

Teagan is starting to extend himself into a broader world, taking more and more notice of people and things around him, and wanting to go there. The first thing he did when he was born was to fling his arms wide, kinda like they are here. At the birth, of course, I didn't touch. Here, I reached across the table and brought him over for a chat. He likes pushing his legs straight out and either trying to stand up on you or just going rigid and holding the pose. He's starting to be more fun, and soon he'll be into everything. I can hardly wait. Actually, I wonder what it will be like. He's been very mellow from Day One, but very alert and has agendas. Let's see where they go!

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24, Astoria: Plane crash and Columbia River rescue

On a beautiful Saturday, a plane flew low over the city of Astoria and crash-landed in the Columbia River. Thakfully, both people on board survived. One was a former Mayor of Astoria. I've given the long text story in my Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo blog. Since the "City Daily Photo" rules specify one picture per day, I used the dramatic rescue photo above with a lot of text, and left the rest of the photo story for this blog and my albums. For that reason, I'll keep the text short here - the two blog posts complement each other. Because Laurel saw the plane veer over the town and plunge into the water, because she called me, and because I was here with my camera and could get to the scene within minutes, I was apparently the only one who caught the people on the wing of the plane. See the Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo for details. And click the picture for a larger view.

Behind the shutter, I didn't see all of the details until I got the photos onto my hard drive. The pilot and his passenger are on the pilot boat now, but not visible.

I couldn't understand why the boat was leaving, since I hadn't seen any people, and I actually thought they were still on the plane.

The scene at that point was eerily serene.

I'd been standing behind the Maritime Museum, and the police cordoned the place off, asking everyone to get out. The plane had begun to drift down-river rather fast, and it seemed a better vantage point was on the dock anyway.

I stood on the dock by the Maritime, and within 11 minutes the plane had been carried by the current not only past the museum to the docks' location on the river bank, but it had also been carried - amazingly - toward midsectiof a Coast Guard bar tender equipped with a crane meant for lifting heavy objects such a buoys out of the water. It was just strange - of all the places it could have landed and been carried to! At that point there were no ropes on the plane, and nobody had been guiding it -0r not that I saw, anyway!

A crowd gathers at the bar tender, wonders at the bizarre scene, and wonders what they're going to do with the plane.

The Coast Guard seemed to be wondering, too, as the plane, nose down and helpless, continues to float up near the ship.

This is the first time I saw anyone bring out ropes. They're not going to let it get away, although I don't think there's much of a plan yet. My camera batteries died at this point, and I ran back to get new ones.

When I returned, they'd hauled the tail up against the ship with a large black rubber torpedo-shaped thing holding the plane away from the ship's hull so it wouldn't cause damage.

Here the people are gathered along the dock at the side of the bar tender.

Then they decided to move it back along the ship's side.

It's strongly roped so it can be pulled against the current - left being down-river and right being up.

The plane has mostly sunk now, and you can just see a wing tip, looking a lot like the fin of a shark. The black rubber torpedo is the "egg" I referred to above.

So they were going to haul the plane onto the ship after all. For some reason I like this photo, where the crew begins unhooking the tie-downs on the piles of huge chain. The orders are: clear the deck.

The ship's crane is lifting each heavy pile of chain. I thought they were just loose piles, but they're constructed and hooked together in such a way that they don't have to be lifted very high to be moved. Yes, they completely lift them, they're not dragged.

What now? Waiting. Eventually, we all left. It seemed they were going to call in another boat do something with the plane, and meanwhile the crew were breaking out snacks. Whatever was going to happen, it didn't seem like it would be soon. Despite the sun, the nice-looking day and the t-shirts, most of us who had been standing around for an hour and a half were glad to call it good and get back to someplace warm. Lee and I had tickets the Crab and Seafood Festival, too, and it was getting late. He'd be arriving soon from Bend. The people had been rescued from the plane at 4:46 pm, and it was now almost 6:15. This was an unusual and interesting afternoon, for sure. I hadn't heard a sound, and wouldn't have known anything had happened if Laurel hadn't called. A lot of people working in the area hadn't had a clue.

Further reading: The Daily Astorian

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Astoria-Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival

Volunteer Badge, Wine and Seafood Festival
Wine and Seafood Festival You can click on this image to read the type. I've been meaning to volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce since the Tapir Preservation Fund and The Animal Store became a member last year, and I finally did it. I helped out with some badges and envelope-stuffing for the Crab and Seafood Festival the other day. My intention was to do something that would help the local business scene, and personally I'd like to meet and really get acquainted with more of my fellow business owners. I had a good time, and I got a free pass to the festival, which I hadn't expected. It will be fun. I've gone to a couple of these and had a good time, but the last few years, I've forgotten or been busy or out of town. I'm looking forward both to helping again at the Chamber and to festival. I'll take photos! The festival is the Chamber's biggest fundraiser each year, and there's great food to be had! I'm not much of a drinker, but I'll probably sample a wine or two. You can read more about the festival on the Best of Portland blog, which is where I got the second image.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Save Fort Columbia!

I've been doing lots and lots of historical posting, anachronistic posting, or whatever you want to call it. I've been working from photos I took in 2001, when I first moved to Oregon, and I've just done a post with lots of photos of Fort Columbia, Washington, just across the river from Astoria. It's a beautiful place, well kept-up and fun to wander around in. You can climb the mountain behind it, too, making a nice, steep loop, not too strenuous or long, and come back down into the fort. The whole time you're walking through forest or forest meadow (sometimes mud, too, but not that bad). When I looked it up online to make a link, I found two things within a minute of each other. First, I didn't realize you can actually rent a couple of these houses for a night. They're historic and lovely, and they aren't that expensive, especially if you double up. There is a house that sleeps four and another that accommodates up to 12 people for a bit over $200.00!!! If you happen to have a party of 12, that's only $23.00 each plus tax!!! What a deal! Or if you had a few people, you could each have two or three beds.

After my excitement at this discovery, the next thing I found was really discouraging. It was a recent article in the Daily Astorian about plans to "mothball" Fort Columbia. (Note: I see that I can't make a direct link; if you're not a subscriber to the Astorian, as I'm not, you'll have to get in by the back door. Use this link to search Google, and then look for the search result 'Fort Columbia targeted for mothballing.' It was the top result today when I searched.) Now, the reason for closing down this historic site? Under-use and lack of funds. I put in my two cents and sent e-mail to the cause, and now I'm posting about it o this blog. It would be a terrible shame. Maybe some PR would help? I mean, who knew you could actually stay in such a unique and historic building for so little? If the plan goes through - and in this economy, I'm afraid it will - they'll allow hikers and day-use people to use the place, but they won't maintain it. Maybe there's a "Save Fort Columbia" organization where I can add a little more than two cents. It would be worthwhile. On the other hand, when school budgets are being cut so drastically and people are losing their jobs, the choices become so difficult. I think there must be a way to preserve both. When you lose history, you don't necessarily get it back. But we can't undereducate kids and take teachers out of schools. The choices to be made in this economy are pathetic and sad. There is so much wealth in the world, yet the balance is horribly off.

I found this on YouTube. Here's one of the strange things you can do at Fort Columbia. Hang on. It may take a minute to load.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 14, Warrenton and Astoria: Beautiful sunset sky, beautiful light

I took this photo just outside the Columbia Fitness Center in Warrenton, just across the Youngs Bay Bridge from Astoria. It's a swampy area alongside the river, so there's a lot of plant life there.

I took this picture from the same location. It's less dramatic, but I like the image and the colors. The clouds were beautiful this evening, and the light was really nice. It was just after 7:30 p.m., so it's clear that the days are getting longer. During winter, it's dark by 5 pm, and in summer, you can still see light in the sky at 10:00. I enjoy the changes we get this far north.

I took this pic just before 7:00 p.m. as I was getting ready to go to the gym. The light had that special quality that told me there could be a really good sunset. You never know what form it will take, but a certain mellow quality in the light and certain moisture in the air usually give interesting results. It's better for ship photos, too, because there's less contrast. Too often, the white "castle" on the ship burns out, and I'm not good enough with the camera controls yet to get it right. When I exposed for the castle in some experiments the other day, the rest of the photo went dark. Anyway, I love this lighting.

Plastic ferret new in our store!

Oops. Got so tired, I posted this to the wrong blog, so I moved the post.

You can . . .

follow the plastic ferret link to the right blog :) It is cute!

~ Thanks!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April 7, Astoria: Fog and boats on the river

I drove into Astoria early from Portland - well, it seemed early to me, since I had to get up before 7, but I didn't actually get back to Astoria until about 9:30. By 11:07, when I took this photo, the sun had burned the fog off of the town, but it still lingered on the water, making for yet another interesting permutation of lighting and elements. Note the "ghost ship" behind the pilings, and you can't even see the hills in Washington. The air still felt pretty chilly to me. I saw people walking around in t-shirts, but I was happy to pull on my warm jacket before going out.

I'm not sure if this is Coast Guard or someone else, but they're jetting across the scene to get somewhere in a hurry. On the right you can just see the green buoy. It's not really floating in air, but it looks that way. The air in the foreground is clear, but as sometimes happens, the fog lingers over the water. I took these pix from the old ferry dock at the foot of 14th Street.

Monday, April 06, 2009

April 6, Astoria and Vancouver: Spring comes to Oregon and Washington

Garden, Astoria This morning I planted seven or eight more plants that I got at Freddy's last night. During the process of planting, I realized I should have checked out one of my classmates' nurseries, but we get into such ruts sometimes that when I think plants here in Astoria, I think "Fred Meyer." I'm not sure where their nursery is, but when I find it, I'll post about it. I know they care so much for their plants, it would make me happy to buy from them. I do still have the area to the left to deal with - the shaggy grass you can just see outside of the rock border. This pretty much completes the area inside the rocks. I hope they grow well this summer and turn the flowerbed into a riot of color. If not, I'll probably keep planting things, because that's what I want. My three sage plants in this bed survived the winter, and I've already seen that while the dusty gray kitchen sage seems to grow faster, it gets gray and leggy and sort of dead-looking, while the purple sage is still beautiful, if smaller. I love purple sage and would have filled the garden with it, except I'd like bright colors, too.

Sailboats on the Columbia River After fixing up the garden, I took off for Portland, where I was meeting Lee so we could go to the J.J. Cale concert at the Aladdin Theater. Since I guessed (correctly) that they wouldn't let you take photos inside, I didn't take my camera out of the car, and I have no pix of it, though someday I'd like to take some of the outside. Let me just say that J.J. Cale and his band were incredible, much better than I'd heard on his recordings, although I haven't listened to the latest live recordings. So that's how we ended the evening, but when we first arrived, we found our motel, then went across the bridge to Vancouver, Washington. Beaches is a restaurant on the river that we enjoy, and we had lunch there before chilling in the park nearby. I took the sailboat photos just above and below from Beaches. The Columbia River separates the two cities in the process of dividing Washington from Oregon. I took all of the following photos from the Washington side, and all but these two sailboat pix from "Old Apple Tree Park" near the I-5 Bridge.

A sailboat on the Columbia River It looks like a lake, but it's the Columbia River. Some days you see sailboats up here. Down our way, near the mouth of the river, that's pretty rare.

Green blossoms on a tree It was a beautiful day. The weekend had been the first really nice weather in a long time. It wasn't hot, but it was sort of warm. Some people were in t-shirts, and I alternated: sweatshirt/t-shirt, maybe even my jacket, depending on the shade and the breeze. It was fairly calm, and there were lots of flowering and blossoming things just getting into the Spring mood.

More green blossoms
Crows in a tall tree I like crows. I liked watching them in the trees. We put blankets on the grass and napped and watched things, and didn't do much else.

Trees in the park, Vancouver, Washington
Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington Some people were more industrious. They were chasing a ball of some kind. I was so relaxed, I don't even remember what they were playing. A path goes through the park along the riverfront.

The I-5 Bridge and Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington Portland/Vancouver have a number of picturesque bridges, and this is one of them. I thought they all had interesting names, but this one seems only to be called "The I-5 Bridge," or "Interstate Bridge," and it's notable for having the only stoplight on I-5 between Canada and Mexico. The light is to warn cars that they have to stop when the lift goes up to let ships through.

Interstate Bridge between Portland and Vancouver, and Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver, Washington Here's another shot of the bridge showing more of the park where we were relaxing. It seems this bridge, built in 1917 and subsequently enlarged, is now so outdated that bottlenecks are common. It was one-way until 1956, when they added southbound traffic. They have a plan to build a huge bridge to replace it. My first thought when I saw the artist's rendering is just how ugly it would be. It seems there are a lot more problems than that. I hate seeing beautiful old landmarks fall into the dustbin, as I've already seen in my few (eight) years in Astoria, and this one may not even accomplish anything.

Train engine Back to the park: From our spot on the grass, we could watch the trains passing. I probably should have gotten up and walked over nearer the tracks to get a good photo, but as I said, it was just a lazy day. I needed that.

Train wheels Lee especially likes trains, and so I do. If he's a train freak, I'm at least a train admirer. I like taking photos of them, too. The wheels look pretty cool if you click on the photo.

Train engine And here's another engine on the back. I like that I can see it through the new growth on the trees. The colors are neat.

About the Columbia River and some of its ships When we finally got up, we ambled down closer to the river. I like that this display describes some history of the Columbia. If you click on the picture, you can read it.

A fishing boat on the Columbia River And here's a fishing boat of some type going upriver. It's Spring salmon season.

The Columbia River, Vancouver, Washington Here we've walked closer to the bridge, and you can see what the water's edge looks like with the park on the bluff above it.

I-5 Bridge, Interstate Bridge, Vancouver-Portland And another shot of the I-5 bridge with one of the lifts visible. Someone posted a beautiful picture of this bridge on Panoramio.