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Latest News

March 9, 2012

 

 

Greetings.  Yes, it's been a while since I've updated my website, but it's been an interesting year for me with lots of changes -- and perhaps for you, too.  Most notably, I recently parted ways with my former company, Otak, where I had been their GIS (computer mapping) manager since 2006.   I'll tell you more about that in my next update. 

 

Until then, I wanted to share with you a few stories of recent visits I had with guests at my house in Portland and my visit with an old friend in San Diego that you might find amusing.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Room at the Inn

I haven't mentioned it in my website much, but I finally bought a house.  That was a few years ago and it's certainly been an adjustment after living in humble apartments most of my life, but one reason I bought a house was so I could invite friends and relatives to stay a while and be a host.  I've stayed at other people's houses so many times over the years and I finally wanted to return the favor.

 

Along with getting a pool table (a must for any bachelor), one of the first things I did after buying my house was furnish the guest room, and after several trips to Ikea, I can proudly say:  mission accomplished!  Then I sent out my New Address cards to my friends and relatives, inviting them to come and visit.  As I told them, there was definitely Room at the Inn.

 

Folks started taking me up on my invitation in 2010.  My first overnight guests were my niece Christina and her husband, Michael, who I visited in Tucson after their wedding a few years ago, which I described in my July 2009 update.   Eager to escape the summer heat in Arizona, they came up to Portland in June and spent a weekend at my house, and we had a great time.  I'd gone to Macy's just before they arrived and ordered a guest bed, which fortunately arrived just before they did, and earlier that week I bought a barbecue grill, though it was still in the box in the garage.  Oooh, yes, I have a garage now.  What a concept.

 

On Saturday, I showed Christina and Michael around downtown Portland, then on Sunday, I took them out to the Columbia River Gorge, where the mighty Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains.  It's a spectacular area dotted with numerous scenic waterfalls and amazing vistas.  After our tour, we returned to my house, put together my barbecue grill, and had the very first grilled chicken ever served at Del's Inn.  I need to work on my grilling technique, though, because it was more "blackened chicken" than barbecued chicken, but we had a good time and it was wonderful to see them again.

 

Crown Point    Vista House at Crown Point    Columbia River from the Vista House

Above left:  Crown Point (right) is the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge, where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains.  That building is the Vista House.  Beacon Rock, on the left, was named by Lewis & Clark who paddled through here in 1805 on their way to the Pacific.

Above center:  Here's the Vista House, a visitor center built in the early 1900's and the gateway to the gorge.  There's a little museum downstairs and the balcony upstairs provides a great view.

Above right:  And here's the view from the Vista House.  The Gorge extends about 30 miles, from east Portland to the town of Hood River.  The original highway through the gorge opened in 1922 and was an engineering marvel for its time, and one of the first paved highways in the U.S.

 

 

Larch Mountain viewpoint    Mt. Hood from Larch Mountain    Bridalveil Falls

Above left:  My niece Christina and her husband Michael, from Tucson.  That's Mt. Hood in the background.  This is at the Larch Mountain viewpoint, where you can also see snowcapped Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier.

Above center:  At 11,240', Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon.  It's snowcapped year-round.

Above right:  My niece Christina and me at Bridalveil Falls.  With all the waterfalls, ferns, and trees, I'm sure this was just a bit different than Tucson.

 

Wahkeena Falls    Multnomah Falls Bridge   

Above left:  There are dozens of waterfalls in the gorge, including this one, Wahkeena Falls.  You could spend days here exploring them all.

Above center:  Here's the highest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah Falls.  Combined, the upper and lower falls are about 1,000 feet high. 

Above right:  Having dinner back at my house that evening.  We'd just assembled my new barbecue grill and tried it out.  My "blackened chicken" was truly unforgettable -- as hard as they try, they can't forget it.  But fortunately my grilling skills have improved since then.  Really.

 

My Friends from Minnesooooda

My second overnight guests arrived at the Inn a few months later in the fall.  My old friend Mark and his wife Jayne (see August 14, 2001 ) flew out from Minnesota (eh?) and spent some time with me.  Mark hadn't been to the Northwest in many years and this was Jayne's very first visit.  I wish the weather had cooperated, though, because it was drizzly during much of their visit and we only got one peek at nearby, snowcapped Mt. Hood, but they still had a good time. 

 

I took them to the Oregon coast one day and they were intrigued with Astoria and especially, being film buffs, the countless movies that were made there.  Astoria is a city of about 10,000 with a fascinating history. I've traveled all over the U.S. and I think Astoria is probably the most interesting city of its size in America.  The city is at the mouth of the Columbia River, and Lewis and Clark stayed in this area for several months after they reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805, the first white men to explore the Pacific Northwest.  The town of Astoria was established shortly afterwards, in 1811, making it the first American settlement on the west coast. And it's one of only two places on the U.S. mainland that was attacked by the Japanese during World War II, when a submarine harmlessly lobbed a few shells at nearby Fort Stevens one night in 1942.  The other place that was attacked, in case you were wondering, was down near Santa Barbara with basically the same result.

 

Much more importantly as far as Mark and Jayne were concerned, though, Astoria is where "Kindergarten Cop" and "The Goonies" were filmed and a host of other movies, including "Short Circuit."  For some reason, Mark and Jayne were especially intrigued with "The Goonies," although they've never actually seen the movie, and we spent much of the morning visiting sites that appeared in this movie that they've never seen.  That includes the jail, which is now a Visitor Center, and the house where "The Goonies" was filmed.  Actually, there weren't any signs pointing to the actual Goonies house and thus we weren't really sure which of several houses it was.  But it didn't matter much to Mark and Jayne, because just being in the vicinity of Goonie History gave them goosebumps.  Mark and Jayne left Portland later that week totally pumped and determined to watch "The Goonies," though I told them not to get their hopes up too much.

 

On their final day here, they wanted to see Mt. Rainier, a beautiful 14,000-foot snowcapped volcano, because apparently there aren't too many of those things in Minnesota.  It was a cloudy morning so I warned them we might not be able to actually SEE the mountain, but I'd be happy to drive them there, and that's what I did.  It's about a three-hour drive north of Portland towards Seattle and while we enjoyed the Mt. Rainier Visitor Center, the visibility outside was about, oh, 15 feet.  Nevertheless, a ranger pointed in the foggy mist in the general direction of the mountain and assured us that it really was up there somewhere.

 

It was great to see Mark and Jayne again, we had a nice time, and I enjoyed being their tour guide.  And if it's foggy the next time they drive me around Minnesota, I'll tell them that their cornfields remind me a lot of, well, Mt. Rainier.

 

Gliders at Astoria Column    Mouth of Columbia River    Horsetail Falls

Above left:  Mark and Jayne with gliders at the Astoria column, where we tossed them from the top.

Above center:  Astoria, Oregon, where the Columbia River (right) meets the Pacific Ocean.  Founded in 1811, Astoria was the first American settlement on the west coast.  More notably for some folks, including Mark and Jayne, it was also where Steven Spielberg filmed, "The Goonies."

Above right:  That's Mark under Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.  The trail goes behind the falls.

 

Mo's Restaurant    Darlingtonia    Cleawox Lake

Above left:  We also hit the central Oregon coast and had lunch at historic Mo's, my favorite place in Newport.

Above center:  Darlingtonia are like venus fly traps and live in only a few places on the coast, like here north of Florence.

Above right:  Cleawox Lake at Honeyman State Park near Florence on the central Oregon coast.  The sand dunes in this area are massive and seemingly go on forever.  Not quite like Minnesota, eh?

 

Kicking back on the beach    Mt. Rainier Visitor Center    Mt. Rainier Visitor Center

Above left:  After hiking for a mile, we reached the beach, kicked back and had a smoked salmon lunch.

Above center:  We went to Mt. Rainier National Park one day, but sadly, this was the only mountain we saw.

Above right:  Enjoying the "view" at Mt. Rainier.  The rangers promised us the mountain was up there somewhere.

 

Sharks?  What Sharks?

Sandwiched in between my visits from Christina & Michael and Mark & Jayne, I flew down to San Diego for a weekend to visit my old friend, Troy, and his wife Carlye.  Troy, Mark and I have been good friends ever since junior high, when we sat together at lunch every day and talked about baseball cards and debated the Nixon-McGovern presidential race of 1972.  I came out on the short end of those debates and the election, too, but I got my redemption a couple years later with this thing called Watergate.  But no matter, our different political leanings have never swayed our friendship, something today's politicians could perhaps learn from.

 

I hadn't been to Troy's house since 2001 (see June 14, 2001), but he said he had plenty of Room at the Inn, so I packed my bags.  I flew down on a Friday and, after a stop for a burger with Troy and his kids, we headed out to a short, par-3 golf course where Troy and I have played golf for longer than I can remember.  Troy has three kids, sons Logan and Ty and a daughter, Renee, and I was in luck because it just so happened that this particular weekend, Renee was playing in a soccer tournament.  Well, actually she plays in a soccer tournament every weekend, including Christmas and Thanksgiving, so maybe I wasn't so lucky.  But I really like watching soccer and enjoyed watching her play several times that weekend, and had fun watching Ty play in a basketball game one evening, as well.

 

The highlight of the weekend, though, was something Troy had been planning for a while.  He had read in the San Diego newspaper about a swarm of leopard sharks that cluster in the ocean in nearby La Jolla cove.  The sharks are harmless, but he was intrigued that you could wade in the ocean and be surrounded by a whole slew (no, that's not the right term.  A pod?  A pride?  whatever) of sharks.  

 

So on Sunday morning, the three adults -- apparently the ones without much sense -- got up extremely early and went to the beach, arriving there around 8 a.m.  Being a night owl, I don't get up that early for much of anything on a Sunday, even if my house is burning down, but I figured this was going to be something unique.  I'd swam with nurse sharks off the coast of Belize before but never leopard sharks in ritzy La Jolla, and Troy said he'd never swam with sharks at all.   On that very chilly, drizzly morning, we waded out into the very chilly, drizzly surf and began our search, but with no luck.  Twenty minutes later, with my teeth chattering, I suggested we throw in the towel -- well not literally, because the towel was up on the beach -- but we gave up and never did see a leopard shark or a nurse shark or any kind of shark.

 

But I learned the next day after I'd returned to Portland that the sharks may have seen us.  Troy sent me a link to a story in the San Diego newspaper, saying that swimmers had spotted one and possibly two great white sharks (no, make that Great White Sharks) that same morning in La Jolla cove, right where we'd been swimming.  So the next time Troy suggests we go swimming with the sharks, I'll stay on the beach as he wades through the water.  But being the good friend I am, I'll offer him lots of encouragement.

 

       

Above left:  Golfing with my lifelong friend, Troy, and his kids, Renee and Ty.  Troy and I have played golf at this little 9-hole course in San Diego for 25 years.  Nine bucks for a round of golf, such a deal.

Above center:  In high school, Troy always beat me at golf.  He still does.

Above right:  His daughter Renee (in red) played in a soccer tournament that weekend and we watched every game.  It was a lot of fun.

 

       

Above left:  Troy, the master chef.  No blackened chicken here.

Above center:  In search of sharks, Troy's wife Carlye wisely decided not to join us.  Neither did their dog.

Above right:  On Sunday afternoon, Troy and I visited the aircraft carrier USS Midway in downtown San Diego.  I've visited lots of U.S. Navy ships and submarines over the years, but never an aircraft carrier.  It was great.

 

 

Previous News

February 27, 2011:  The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

January 7, 2010:  Belize Trip #4 (Building an Orphanage for Jaime and Nancy)

July 29, 2009:  A Wedding in Tucson and a Road Trip to Montana

April 18, 2009:  Belize Trip #3 (Building a School with NYU)

January 24, 2009:  Abu Dhabi and a Road Trip in Oman

January 5, 2009:  Belize Trip #2 (Two Schools and an Orphanage)

July 6, 2008:  Around the World in Eight Days (Part 2: Abu Dhabi to Portland)

July 6, 2008:  Around the World in Eight Days (Part 1: Portland to Abu Dhabi)

February 20, 2008:  The San Antonio School  (San Ignacio, Belize)

February 17, 2008:  The Succotz Library  (San Ignacio, Belize)

February 16, 2008:  Belize it or Not  (San Ignacio, Belize)

May 28, 2007:  Oregon Bound  (Portland, Oregon)

August 7, 2005:  Back To Work  (Redmond, Washington)

June 25, 2004:  Life in Bellingham  (Bellingham, Washington)

December 7, 2003:  The Greatest Generation  (Bellingham, Washington)

March 28, 2003:  My Father  (Bellingham, Washington)

October 30, 2002  (Bellingham, Washington)

July 24, 2002  (Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia)

July 12, 2002  (Lake City, Colorado)

July 4, 2002: Life as a Ranger, Part 2  (Lake City, Colorado)

July 4, 2002: Life as a Ranger, Part 1  (Lake City, Colorado)

July 1, 2002  (Looking Glass Rock, Utah)

June 25, 2002  (Lassen Volcanic National Park, California)

June 18, 2002: Part 2  (Port Orford, Oregon)

June 18, 2002: Part 1  (Port Orford, Oregon)

May 22, 2002  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 7, 2002  (Sydney, Australia)

April 4, 2002  (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

April 1, 2002  (Hervey Bay, Australia)

March 28, 2002  (Airlie Beach, Australia)

March 25, 2002  (Port Douglas, Australia)

March 16, 2002  (Winton, Australia)

March 13, 2002  (Alice Springs, Australia)

March 11, 2002  (Ayers Rock, Australia)

March 8, 2002  (Coober Pedy, Australia)

March 5, 2002  (Port Augusta, Australia)

March 1, 2002: Part 2  (Robe, Australia)

March 1, 2002: Part 1  (Robe, Australia)

February 18, 2002  (Bega, Australia)

February 7, 2002  (Auckland, New Zealand)

February 2, 2002: Part 2  (Taupo, New Zealand)

February 2, 2002: Part 1  (Taupo, New Zealand)

January 25, 2002  (Hokitika, New Zealand)

January 20, 2002  (Geraldine, New Zealand)

January 16, 2002  (Te Anau, New Zealand)

January 12, 2002: Part 2  (Dunedin, New Zealand)

January 12, 2002: Part 1  (Dunedin, New Zealand)

January 1, 2002: Part 2  (Christchurch, New Zealand)

January 1, 2002: Part 1  (Christchurch, New Zealand)

December 24, 2001  (Wellington, New Zealand)

December 20, 2001  (Auckland, New Zealand)

December 16, 2001  (Auckland, New Zealand)

December 14, 2001  (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)

December 10, 2001  (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)

December 3, 2001: Part 2  (Bellingham, Washington)

December 3, 2001: Part 1  (Bellingham, Washington)

October 18, 2001: Part 3  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001: Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001: Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 6, 2001  (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001: Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001: Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 15, 2001  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

August 30, 2001  (Webster, South Dakota)

August 18, 2001  (Watertown, South Dakota)

August 17, 2001  (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)

August 14, 2001  (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

August 10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)

August 6, 2001  (Manlius, New York)

July 23, 2001  (Middleton, Massachusetts)

July 22, 2001  (Boston, Massachusetts)

July 20, 2001  (Pomfret, Connecticut)

July 18, 2001  (Denton, Maryland)

July 16, 2001  (Cumberland, Virginia)

July 14, 2001  (Roanoke, Virginia)

July 9, 2001  (Sevierville, Tennessee)

July 8, 2001  (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)

July 5, 2001  (Manchester, Tennessee)

June 30, 2001  (Hohenwald, Tennessee)

June 29, 2001  (Corinth, Mississippi)

June 27, 2001  (Natchez, Mississippi)

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)

June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001: Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001: Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)