Monday, December 27, 2010

First Peoples Gallery

As part of our Victoria BC tour we stopped at the Royal British Columbia Museum. I enjoyed the partial HMS Discovery replica in the Modern History gallery and the forests in the Natural History section. I was not prepared for the impact that the First Peoples Galley would have upon me.

Part of my apprecation of this art stems from my time in the Boy Scouts.

But there was something deeper that I cannot explain.

I just know that I need to return someday and marvel at this place.

To let it soak in even deeper.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

High Tea on Vancouver Island

Legend has it it that Anna Marie Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, was looking for a light meal to make the long stretch between lunch and dinner bearable. Her solution was a combination of tea, small sandwiches, and desserts. While High Tea is not as popular in Canada as in the United Kingdom, Victoria is an exception. We were visiting the Provincial Capital of British Columbia and decided to check this tradition out.

We passed on having High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, instead we partook in this tradition at the Gatsby Mansion. While more than a third of the cost than the Empress, it still had fine offerings with a touch of elegance. The meal consisted of four courses.

A Fruit Plate....

followed by a Scone Plate...

then a variety of Sandwiches...

and then, last but not least, the dessert plate.

As you can see, this was not a light meal. While the practice here is to advertise this as High Tea, careful reading of teatime traditions would discover that this is actually Afternoon Tea. Whatever it was called, it was enough to fill us up for a walk touring the night lights of Victoria and several hands of UNO.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Easter Eggs at Christmas?

This year my parents decorated their Christmas Tree with eggs. You should note that these are not ordinary eggs, but egg shells decorated by my relatives in the Czech Republic. Here are a couple of examples.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Double Trailhead Tour

Saturday I joined the Adventurous Young Mazamas for a Cross Country Ski trip at Old Man Pass. We crossed the Bridge of the Gods and passed through Carson on our way to the trailhead. At this point there was snow on the road, but not enough to hold us back. That changed with the Wind River Road started to head upwards, as the road had not been plowed and to continue farther did not seem prudent. So we parked the cars and found another place to ski. First we toured Government Mineral Springs, then we skied to the Trapper Creek Wilderness Trailhead and then on to the Falls Creek Trailhead. Our mileage was somewhere between 8 to 11.5 miles, depending whether or not you believed Keith's GPS.

As started the drive back home a hear of Elk crossed our paths.

To relax our muscles and our spirits we stopped at the Carsons Mineral Hot Springs Spa for a hot soak in their mineral waters. The facility dates from the 1930s and could be described as funky or rustic, depending on your point of view. I enjoyed sliding into a bath that I could fit my long legs into without having to fold them like a pretzel. After the bath they cocooned you in a swaddling wrap. It reminded me of the hibernation capsules from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyessy. Unlike those poor murdered scientists from the film I emerged from my wrap to finish off with a sauna. Very relaxing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Green Tomatoes

This year I built a new garden bed in my front yard. Since my front yard faces south I thought it would be a great place to grow tomatoes. And it was, the plants in the front yard did noticiable better than the ones in the back yard. However, with the odd weather this summer I was left with plenty of green tomatoes. Now, I have not seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and did not have the desire to cook in that style, so I sought out another recipe. After awhile I came across this one for Curried Green Tomato Casserole. Here is how it turned out.

I made my own breadcrumbs from three slices of bread and added a very generous amount of curry powder. I also had a little extra mozzarella cheese that I needed to finish off, so I added that as well. Guten Appetit!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Costume

Last weekend I was home, laying low and recovering from a cold. Halloween was coming up and once again I was struggling to come up with ideas for a costume. After doing some research I was inspired to dress up as the characters from the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters.

Online I found plenty of material to work with, including a YouTube video that showed how to make a Proton Pack. I found myself enjoying the process of using my resources to put this costume together. The tube from a broken shop vacuum came in useful as well as a round cookie tin. I made some photocopies of Hazardous Good placards to decorate the Proton Pack. It was interesting to learn that I had to give Lowes my drivers license number to buy the black spray paint, the only part of the costume that I had to purchase. I was quite pleased with the outcome.

At work I took upon the task of organizing the Halloween potluck. We had a great turnout this year.

Never before had I seen so many Crock-Pots there at once. The big surprise was the checkered cake one gal made. I was so impressed, I had never seen a cake like that before. It made all of my efforts to put this potluck together worthwhile.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Marmot Pass

Marmot Pass, which separates the Big Quilcene and Dungeness Rivers, occupies a special place in my heart. It was here that I backpacked with Camp Parsons High Adventure for the first time. Growing up with the skyline of the Olympic Mountains visible from backyard, the Olympics were already in my sight. But it was this outing where my appreciation of this range sunk in even deeper into my skin.

It has been 24 years since I set foot here. There was still ample Indian Paintbrush to color the alpine meadows. As we hiked up Buckhorn Mountain the clouds moved in and out, giving us panoramic views of the mountains that watch over the Dungeness Valley.

The last time I was here most of our group misread the terrain and map, thus heading away from our base camp. We realized our error in good time, allowing us to return to camp and learn from the experience. This time there were not any navigation errors. Only fond memories of the beginning of the path started here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Round the Mountain: Different Views of Mt Hood

I spent the Labor Day weekend hiking (not backpacking) most of the way around Mount Hood. During each day of the holiday weekend I hiked a 14 mile segment of the Timberline Trail. Day One was from Ramona Falls to Timberline, Day Two from Timberline to Cloud Cap Inn, and Day Three was from Elk Grove to Top Spur. Thanks to the Mazamas I was able to spend the night at their lodge with a hot shower, hot meal, and a roof over my head.

Here is our route.

I gained a better appreciation of the geography of the area surrounding Mt Hood. I also got to see how the landscape varied. Here are some different perspectives of Oregon's highest mountain.

From the Southwest: Paradise Park

From the South: Timberline

From the Southeast: The Newton Clark Glacier from Laberson Butte

South View: Cooper Spur

Northest View: From Cairn Basin


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Castle

In 2007 Paul Steger and I retreated from our attempt to cross the Bailey Traverse in the Olympic Mountains. Lousy weather had us looking for greener pastures and we found them in Rainier National Park. One of the places that we explored was the Tatoosh Range. We scrambled up Pinnacle Peak and then hiked up Plummer Peak. Then we started to explore The Castle. After crossing a scary traverse we made our way to the summit block. We probably could have scrambled up there, but I did not feel like I could descend without a rope.

Saturday I found myself in the Tatoosh Range again. This time it was iffy weather in the North Cascades that had me looking for better conditions, so again I found myself at the door of The Castle. This time I was there with more experience and confidence, the necessary equipment, and a team of Mazamas.I had a feeling that there was a better way than to cross than that scary traverse, so I did my homework. This time we hiked below the traverse and I found a place to climb up the ridge. Once we all had climbed this pitch we found easy access to the summit block.

The assistant pointed out a good route to the top. As I climbed up this pitch I found good rock and plenty of places to place my rock gear. I was even able to place my Pink Tricam, which has been used for all of my climbs this summer. I felt like my gear placement was more efficient on this climb. Everyone on the team did a great job climbing up this pitch.

Up on the summit we had misgivings about the location where it appeared that others had rappelled down, so we took the time to set up our own rappel station. Once everyone had rappelled down we carefully made our way down the talus field and started back. Going down I found a better way down than the way we had ascended. Everyone was very diligent about careful foot placement, as there was ample loose rock here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planes Trains and Automobiles

It should not have surprised me that I would have found so much of my past in Minnesota. While it is hundreds of miles from the Pacific Northwest, my parents grew up in this state and I have many relatives that live here. So when I made an early morning journey to the PDX airport the stage was set for a visit to the past, present, and future.

I was traveling to the Midwest to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jack. There were friends and family traveling from all over the country to witness this happy occasion. Even Europe was represented. There were so many people at the reception that my Cousin Jeff had to set up more tables.

I was prepared to see relatives that I had not seen for 11 to 16 years. I was caught off guard for the emotional impact that the slide show at the reception had upon me. I was also surprised to see things that reminded me of my Grandparents. Like the luggage that I spotted in my Aunt's hand. The piano that Grandma played as she would sing hymns. The clock on the fireplace mantel that Grandpa had made.

But I did not come here to dwell in the past. I discovered that I was not the only one in the family tree that would travel to the graveside of a dead American President. It was enlightening to see the traits that my cousins and I share due to our common heritage. In addition, it was meaningful to reacquaint with this part of my family. I certainly appreciated them sharing their homes, stories, laughter, and dreams with me.

While it was the automobile that got me to and from the airport (thanks Tanya and Scott), it was the train that was my ticket home. I boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder late Monday night in Minneapolis and de-trained Wednesday morning in Portland. While airline travel is quicker, I appreciated the more intimate view that train travel offered.

I spent most of the time in the observation car and enjoyed the fields of Sunflowers, the wind rippling like waves through the grasslands, and brief glimpses of the peaks of Glacier National Park. As a bonus some Mazamas friends boarded the train at the West Glacier train station. It was a treat to hear their stories of backpacking in Glacier National Park. I really would like to return here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nice Ride Minnesota

Monday I found myself biking in the city that is rated the friendliest for cyclists. No, that city is not Portland, although it has had that distinction in past years. This year it is Minneapolis that can make that claim according to Bicycling Magazine.

While visiting for the day I found a public bicycle sharing program that may have impressed those magazine editors. For only $5 per day I could borrow a bike for a 24 hour period. The catch was that I after 30 minutes I would have to pay a $1.50 per hour Use Fee. I could avoid that fee by returning the bike to one of the Nice Ride kiosks. Of course I would be able to check out another bike and reset the clock.

I found this was a good system for short term use. The trick was keeping track of the clock and planning my trip out so there would be a kiosk along my path. I was able to bike along the Mississippi River and across the new Stone Arch Bridge. I also crossed over the Washington Avenue Bridge and was able to explore the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. Since I was just visiting for the day, I choose my path carefully since I did not have a bicycle helmet.

As usual, exploring by bike was more invigorating and I could cover more ground.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Parkways: Southeast Portland

Today we braved the heat and joined the masses to tour Southeast Portland. This was part of Portland's Sunday Parkways, were streets connecting city parks are closed to motor traffic.

Along the way we ran into friends, practiced with the Hula Hoops, listened to music, and enjoyed biking down the streets without cars.

With the temperature in the 90s it was tough to beat the heat. Thankfully many households along the way were running their lawn sprinkers to help us cool off. The free Snow Cones towards the end made a big difference.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Tuesday was a sad day. My housemate's cat Tefnut had been missing since Thursday. Today we learned that she had been killed by a car on a nearby street. Someone in the neighborhood had found her and buried her. When they saw my housemate's Lost Cat fliers they called with the bad news.

Although she had been around for only three months, Tefnut had some big fans in the neighborhood. One neighbor would sit out on her porch in the morning and the cat would come running over and leap onto her lap.

She was a friendly, curious, and playful cat and I will miss her. Here is an example of what is missing from our house...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red Cabbage

Today I harvested the first of three Red Cabbage that have been dominating the Southern end of my garden.
Last year my attempt at growing Cabbage was not sucessful. This year I planted four starters and three of them have survived so far. Next year I'll give them a little more space.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mount Shuksan

It was 11:30 pm at the Alfy's pizza in Sedro Woolley, Washington. I was one of four people standing outside in the parking lot. We had barely made it here in time to order take out, so our discussion of the days events had to take place outdoors. Originally we had planned on spending the night at a higher elevation, but circumstances had changed our plans.

The plan was to hike into base camp at 6100 feet on Friday, cross the Sulphide Glacier and ascend via the Southeast Rib on Saturday, and hike out on Sunday after a night of rest. The venue was Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades National Park. Two years ago I had summited Mt Baker and looked down on this peak. I was so impressed that I resolved to return.

Mount Shuksan as seen from the summit of Mount Baker

The hike in was glorious, despite the bugs and downfallen trees. As we hiked along Shannon Ridge we marveled at the views of Mount Baker. It got even better once we passed through the pass at 5400 feet as more the grandeur of the North Cascades came into view. It was a shame that someone more familiar with the peaks of the area was not amongst us.

Approaching base camp

We pitched our tents on the snow at a elevation of 6100 feet. There was glacier melt trickling down, so we did not have to melt water. The setting was incredible, looking North was the summit pyramid and an impressive set of crevasses. In all other directions the mountain peaks seemed to go on forever. After a pre climb meeting and discussion about crevasse rescue we retired to our tents.

View of the summit pyramid from base camp

The weather seemed mild as we roped up in the morning. Staying on the west side of the glacier, we did not have to cross any major cresvasses. Instead of ascending the summit pyramid via the popular Central gully, we ascended by the Southeast Rib route. I had read that this route had better rock and less chance of party induced rockfall. As I lead up this route I was quite pleased to have the chance to put the skills that I had learned in last years Advanced Rock class to use.

About 300 feet short of the summit I started to feel some light drizzle. While the others ascended by the rope that I had secured I scouted the route out a little. The rock was starting to get wet. At that point I decided that we needed to head down. I felt at peace with my decision. Then the others reported hearing a high resolution buzzing. One lady took off her helmet and her hair was standing straight up! The air was electrically charged, lightning was not far off. We quickly set up a rappel and descended down into the Central Gully. By the time we had roped up for glacier travel the clouds were moving in and we were hit by blowing rain.

Our descent down the glacier had been orderly, but we had been hammered by the wind and rain. Back at base camp we found that one of the tents had been blown away, only to be rescued by another climber. So much for our restful night at base camp. We packed up our wet gear for a long hike back to the trailhead.

As I look back I cannot help to think of all of the blessings of this climb. One from our team really enjoyed learning about the nuts and bolts of glacier navigation. Others got to overcome a challenging portion of the rock climb. The weather had turned on us quickly. It is difficult to say whether there were signs that we could have recognized earlier. However we did heed the warnings and worked together as a team to safely return to the trailhead. This climb was a great learning opportunity for all.

You can find more photos of this climb at this link.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remembering Renwick 'Ed' Dayton

I got a rare treat as I drove North up Highway 101 on Saturday. It was so clear that I could see Mount Baker, nearly centered on the blue green waters of the Hood Canal. Many times in clear and cloudy have I driven along here, but I could never recall a day where I could see this giant of the North Cascades from here.

I was not here on a lark nor did I have any hiking or climbing scheduled for the weekend. Rather I was going to Camp Parsons to say goodbye to Ed Dayton, who was tragically killed in an automobile /motorcycle accident.

Ed was on the Camp Parsons Staff when I was a Scout, before I joined the staff. He was one of those guys that I looked up to as a Scout. When I was backpacking with the Camp Parsons High Adventure program it was Ed that picked us up at the trail head.

After I had worked on the Parsons Staff I frequently saw Ed at the work parties. One could not help to admire his smile and firm handshake. He always looked happy to see me. And it was always a treat to witness his sense of humor. So it was a shock read that he was gone.

So many of us gathered at Campfire Point to celebrate his life. It seemed fitting and proper that we were sitting on the very benches that Ed helped build. I grieved that I had lost a role model, that camp had lost a great supporter, and that we had lost a friend.

John Moen recording stories about Ed