Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30, Astoria: Ships, Logs, and Love on the Prairie (I revive a writing project and start a new blog)

I'm always interested in the different-looking ships that come by. This one belongs to a German company called BBC Chartering. It has nothing to do with the broadcasting company, but it is fitted with super-heavy-duty cranes for lifting super-heavy cargo that can't be broken down into smaller packets that could be lifted by lighter-duty cranes. The parts are for wind turbines assembled in Denmark. (Thanks for the info, Lee!)

A close-up. The cranes and cargo are both squeaky-clean looking. And look how flat the water is. It's been like this for a few days.

Here's anaother pic of the flat water. I enjoy the patterns the water makes as it slips over the foundation of the radio tower in different conditions.

It's lucky for us that the water HAS been flat, because the monster log is still here at the foot of the deck.

Another pic with the shadow of the catwalk.

It was 9:02 p.m. when I took this photo. I love the way the river reflects the sky so late into the evening when it's clear. I had grabbed the pike pole and once again tried to shove that sucker into the current, but it headed for the dual obstacles of the tower and a piling, and in awhile floated back to us. The current was pretty lazy anyway. I couldn't get it to grab.

I've been thinking about how to re-start my Hudson-Joy writing/history/biography project in a new direction, and I've finally figured it out - at least enough to start. I believe that what I need to do is the part that most interests me right now anyway. It makes sense from many angles. See the new blog for details!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 27-28, Astoria: River bites log

Yesterday morning our neighbors, the river pilots, repaired the mesh on the lower part of their building after it had suffered a winter's beating by storm-borne debris. Keep in mind the size of the people down there when you look at the next picture.

As it turned out, they repaired it just in time, because look what the river brought in during the night. It looked much bigger in person than it does here. The short pilings on the right are probably the diameter of telephone poles. This is the biggest floating log I've seen since this episode.

See the new crack in the log where green rocks meet the white ones? Apparently the thing had to bend when the receding tide dropped it where it couldn't lie flat any longer.

It must have been lying or floating somewhere for a long time, because it's got a garden growing in its side.

As the day progressed, of course the tide started coming in again. I wondered how the log would behave, whether it would float peacefully back into the river or would stick around and pummel the building. Much smaller logs have rocked the foundations and made the building shake. It's an interesting sensation, but not terrific for the pilings!

What happened next surprised me - maybe because it seemed to happen quickly. I found one piece of the log in its original position, and the other . . .

. . . beneath our deck several yards away.

Here's looking straight down at it. It wouldn't give me a good angle, because it was beneath the catwalk that goes to the radio tower (a catwalk with a locked gate that we're not allowed to access). But now I could measure this larger piece, which is about 20 feet in length. I had estimated earlier that the whole thing was approximately 30 feet before it broke, and I think that's about right.

Here's the garden, now rocked onto its side.

The log lies about five feet below, and there's my foot for scale.

Another scale photo, with the piling once again about the size of a telephone pole.

The grounded part (looking like a cross between an extinct whale and an oversized alligator) is rocking and bobbing now and partially broken up, but it's still hung up on the rocks. In a short time it floated free, but the incoming tide kept it in place. It remains to be see whether it goes or stays tonight. I'm guessing it will float away when the tide turns again. At almost 6:00 pm, it still hasn't reached high water. One of the river pilots came out on their deck, and we were talking about the log. I asked whether something like this posed any problem for the big ships, thinking it might (what do I know about ships?) and he said it didn't. "What about the pilot boat?" I asked, and he told me it would only be a problem if the log was sticking far out of the water like this one was. Well, the pilot boats are made for very rough seas, and apparently it's the pleasure craft that are most in danger from these monsters, but that's not the main reason we don't see a lot of them on our water. It's simply very rough out there much of the time. So, now you know.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I joined City Daily Photo

I've been posting a new photo of Astoria on my Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo blog each day now since April 23. The picture above is the one I posted yesterday. Today's photo isn't as pretty. I discovered the City Daily Photo blogging community recently and was attracted immediately. Looking at some random pix or going to familiar ones is a fun way to take a virtual world tour for a few minutes every day. Since I like blogging, I signed on to do a daily blog post about Astoria. I'd been following the Paris Daily Photo for awhile and I didn't know he had developed it into a worldwide community until April. Now Lee has joined with Bend, Oregon, Daily Photo and Sergio with Bogota Daily Photo.

On our trip to New York (not posted yet) we even met one of the bloggers from NYC, who was a very nice guy and added to the fun of the trip. On that trip I also met a wonderful woman I'd gotten to know on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hey, I started a meme!

NOTE: I set up a site and got a Mr. Linky account, but I didn't actually start the meme. I realized it was going to be a lot of work. I'm glad James finally set up a meme for reflections.


Oh, cool! I just did something new! I started my own photomeme (like a theme for photobloggers and people who post their pictures in albums). It's a game you can play once the pictures are posted, and it's called Reflections on Saturday. Anyway, I've been having fun with existing ones, so I thought I'd make my own :) I guess the reflections could be visual or thoughtful. I'm anxious to see what people come up with. One of the things that was fun about it was starting another blog and installing the Mr. Linky thing. I really like the way it works. By the way, I've posted the photo above before - it's from January 20, 2009, the day Obama took office. It's kind of hard to tell, but it's a reflection in my car window when I was parked behind the post office. I love those stumpy, scatterbranch trees!

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15, Astoria's Doughboy Monument: Finding an angle

In the center of this photo is Astoria's Doughby Monument. I like the photo with its nice-looking historic houses, but there's one problem - you can barely see the doughboy. I'd decided to use this monument for the ShutterDay photomeme on my other blog, Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo. And then I ran into the complications. You can see those below, and you can read my thoughts about the monument itself on the Astoria Daily Photo blog.

The closest I could get to making the background disappear was lying on the grass in front of the monument. Actually, it was so bright out, I didn't see the one wire or the edge of the lamp until I downloaded the picture.

Here he is in close-up.

I really like the expressive legs and feet with their vintage boots and the snarl of barbed wire - a nice touch by the artist.

This angle might have been interesting if not for the power lines. And of course, there is no longer a river view here.

Impossible. Here the doughboy looks like an urban street fighter.

Eeesh. Way too cluttered, but you can see the massive curve of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and also the access to the restroom housed in the monument. This is thoughtful. There are a few public bathrooms around town if you know where to look for them, but not a lot.

Also impossible.

Here's a photo showing the plaque. I was going to leave it large so you could read it, but I spaced out and sized it. You can read the text here on my other blog. Just scroll down.

I thought I'd include the commemorative bench. Click here for further info on the monument.

The doughboy may be one of Astoria's two free-standing public statues, but I'll keep my eye out for more.

Does your town have public sculpture?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14, Astoria: Some colors and shapes of Thursday

There's always something a little different passing along the river - or if it's not different, maybe I haven't looked at it hard enough before.

I thought the shapes and concavities in the stern of this ship were unusual and interesting. I have no idea what they're used for. Click on the image and you'll see them better. It still amazes me to see the scale of the humans, their ladders and doorways and such on board a ship like this.

The pilot boat was coming in fast, hitting the small chop on the river and causing great billows of spray to fly up at the bow. I missed the best ones, but by my next shot, the boat was behind the building on my left. I like the photo anyway, especially larger.

The other day I posted a picture on my Astoria, Oregon, Daily Photo blog of some green pilings I'd taken in May of 2007, and so many people remarked on the color that I had it on my mind today when the sun brought out the brilliant green again - in fact, even more brightly.

A few seconds after I took this shot, the clouds blew over us again, and the bright hue was gone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, Astoria: Big ship in town - the Sapphire Princess

Here she sits, looking for all the world like a huge white whale with a pointy beak. I've always intended to get down near one of the cruise ships when they come into port. They are so monumental, it's staggering to look at them. The photos don't do justice to the way it feels when you're near one of these monsters. I wasn't able to get all the way up to the ship to get the angle I wanted, and you'll see why in a minute. For now, I'll do my best to show the size.

This is clearly not even the whole ship, even though I put the camera's setting on wide. The little thing on the right with yellow stripes is a bus, and behind that, a two-storey building.

Here's the other end of her.

I'm shooting this through chain link fence, or I'd have gotten closer. The vendors come out when a ship is in port, and there are greeters. You can sign up to do this, but I never have. Some people say it's fun. What I like about this photo, especially if you click to enlarge it, is the different shades of white on the tent tops, and how they appear to be a painting rather than something real, with the gray lines and the white on white against the light gray sky.

There was live music, too. When I arrived, this man was playing and singing an Eric Clapton song. Nobody was watching, but everyone could hear, as the PA system was quite effective. The tents are off to the left and the ship is to the right.

The weather had gone from drizzle to rain while I was walking around taking pictures. If you enlarge this one you can see the water coming down. The musician was dry under the tent.

Going to town with umbrellas, hoods and hats. Shuttle buses take the passengers into town and have several stops for them. I'm not sure how it all works. There must be various arranged times when they can hop the bus back to the ship. Everything is close enough that some people just walk. I'm not sure if this is one of the six or so ships that had been scheduled for Mexico and had to settle for rainy Astoria because of the swine flu. Passengers fill the streets and make the shop owners' day when a cruise ship is in port. The visitors usually seem in good spirits, too, whether it's raining or nice. We try to give them nice weather when we can, and much of the time we do!

Here's what I mean. They really don't want visitors like myself anywhere near the cruise ship! I believe this is standard procedure, although I don't know when it became so rigid.

Eeek! Did you ever feel like you'd done something wrong before you even got started?

It was raining pretty hard by the time I headed back to my car.

Here's a look at the back of the Red Lion Inn and one of the hills of Astoria at the west end of town. The ship is now behind me.

This is the coolest thing! When I looked up the Sapphire Princess online this afternoon, I found they had a WEB CAM on board! You can see the same bridge in my first photo. In fact, they have two cameras - a bridge cam (bridge = part of the ship, not to be confused with the Astoria-Megler bridge in view!) and a wedding cam. If you look in the upper right of the cam page, there's a drop-down with all of their ships. I don't think they really update after two minutes, but right now I'm waiting see the Tahitian Princess docking in St. Petersburg, Russia. I wonder how it's going to get past that car-filled bridge its heading toward? It doesn't look like a drawbridge from here!

Tonight as I was posting, I looked again at the Sapphire Princess's bridge cam. Here it is in the dark, heading to Seattle with lights on. Pretty darn cool. Yes? I think I'll be taking a virtual sail around the world for the next few days!

By the way, I decided to use this post for my first Thursday Challenge photomeme. The theme is appropriate! It's "BIG." Check out the link for more BIG THINGS!