Jul 21

Things I saw on the road

If you’re in the car at the right time, you can see something dramatic. You could see something dramatic at anytime, really. It depends on your definitions. A good stable molecular structure is all around us and that’s nothing short of miraculous, if you ask me. Maybe it depends on where you’re willing to look. Going outside helps. I should do that more. But, still the quantum nature of stuff in the house, or in the office or in the studio can be equally impressive …

But those early evening clouds, they sure are swell, aren’t they?

You know how modern phone commercials advertise everything but the actual phone? I’d like to see a few commercials that show the next practical advancements of phone cameras. You want to wow me? Make me buy a new phone? Show me a model that captures an impressive moon photo, or makes a rainbow’s photo look as glorious as the optical illusion of a spectrum caused by the reflection and refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets in the sky.

If I’d had a proper camera with me today, maybe that would be better. But it’s still dramatic in its own way. A rainbow! Shift to the left, hand in the pocket, pull out the phone, open that wondrous little app and snap a series of tries. It’s a picture of chance, a photo of opportunity. The car never slowed down. There’s no thought to composition, only that old story about the pot of gold that’s at the other end, and a wry smile about how that end of the rainbow is always moving.

If you want to improve your non-moving-car rainbow photography, there’s a lot of advice out there. You can also learn to make your own rainbows. See, dramatic anytime.

More of this tomorrow!

Jun 21


This is the last of the mini-vacation posts. We’ve been back from a four-day trip for a week. I’ve managed to coax a week and-a-half of posts, and 41 photos and a dozen videos out of it. And all of it is interesting and of vital importance to the Internet.

So we’ll relax today and unwind with a bit of time at the beach.

This is out on a morning run. I know there are other places like this, but one of my favorite features of the Pacific Northwest is how the hills and mountains just fall right into the ocean.

Where I’m from you’d have to drive more than three hours from the coast to see any hill of note. So looks like that always intrigue me.

Here’s a bit more of that path that runs along the coast. The ocean is just off to the left there, just a few yards away. And yet, there are little hills here, and it’s made of a sand and soil stable enough to put down asphalt.

And while those pines and firs are familiar, this scrubby, tall grass is something of a new treat.

You know, another thing you don’t see anywhere but on a coast is sculpture like this. Two hundred miles inland it’d make no sense to see boat bumpers hanging on a light post. That far away, you’d roll your eyes at industrial fish netting on the wall of anything other than a Long John Silver’s. And this would be right out.

Here we are, down on the beach one day. That’s not me fishing, of course.

And while any of my photography professors would say I blew the rule of thirds in that picture, I nailed the golden ratio. That guy’s face lands in the Fibonacci circle, even though I was far from considering that while I was on the beach. Also, you’ll note his fishing pole is point up at the sun, and his eyes are looking that same way, which directs your eyes up to the sun, which just appears in the corner. Only some of those things were on my mind while trying to keep the sand out of my shoes. It’s a pretty happy series of accidents that came together to create a fairly dynamic and decent composition. And sand got in my shoes anyway, as it should be on the beach.

Here’s a video of that beach, from almost that same spot.

Again, that hill just falls right into the sea. There’s something wonderful about that.

And here’s a bit more, just in case it has been too long since you’ve seen the ocean.

It’s been a week for me, maybe it’s already too long.

Jun 21

The lighthouses

Why, yes, we are on day four of milking our four-day trip that took place a full week ago. You’d rather I try to make office things interesting or something?

We romanticize lighthouses these days. They were critically important tools, and unique features of rugged and beautiful landscapes. Running them was often a solitary and always demanding life. Everything was regimented and the drudgery was vital to the mission. And, when we’re away from them it’s easy to idealize lighthouses.

When you get there, it can be a little different. They’re built where they are needed. That’s often far away from everyone else. And the entire effort toward making them operational was beholden to the keeper’s job and the purpose of the place. The creature comforts are sparse to say the least.

Here’s the North Head Lighthouse, which were were able to get right next to. They do tours in a non-Covid time. It’s a small lighthouse, the tours probably don’t take long.

In May of 1898, the North Head Lighthouse went into service as the primary navigation aid at the mouth of the Columbia River. It remains in operation today, but the system is automated, and augmented by GPS and other modern technologies.

The lighthouse offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach Peninsula, Columbia River Bar, and the northern Oregon Coast.

We could not get that close to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. It went into service in October of 1856, but it didn’t solve the problem. Ships continued to run aground, often with fatal consequence. The “Graveyard of the Pacific” makes for some tricky and violent waters. The largest ocean and the region’s largest river come together, and so here we are, Cape Disappointment.

As the crow flies, they are just two miles apart; apparently the closest two lighthouses on the Pacific coast.

Where we are at in that Cape Disappointment photograph figures into the sum total of American history. The Chinook tribe are the longest standing residents of which we know. They called Cape Disappointment Kah’eese. A few other names came and went, but the Disappointment name comes from a Western explorer, of course. He named it that because he thought there was no river there. Some explorer. Another, more successful, exploration wound up here. Lewis and Clark stood on these very rocks. The Corps of Discovery came right here, to the very edge of the continent.

Here’s a bit of video, just to give you a bit of a mental vacation, if you will. This is a shot of the North Head Lighthouse.

And here’s a quick video of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, and we’ve arranged for a freighter to turn into the Columbia River to add a bit of realism. (We pull out all the stops for you, dear reader.)

Tomorrow: more vacation highlights. We’re going to the beach.

Jun 21

More of the Bell Trail

Can I milk blog content from a casual, long getaway weekend for longer than the weekend lasted? We’ve met, right?

We skipped town on June 18th for the Pacific Northwest. We were experiencing painful heat indices when we left. And we returned on the 23rd, to much more pleasant temperatures. And we left Washington just before their brutal heat wave arrived, as it turned out. The moral to the story, as ever, if you hear we’re traveling somewhere and you are similarly interested in the place, go early or reschedule. Something always pops up in those places while we are there or just after.

The government fell in Italy while we were there once. Sure, you say, that’s because it was Thursday. And you’re right! And, what’s more, no one even noticed. But there were also austerity protests and riots in the streets of Greece while we were there in that same trip. The Yankee was in Thailand during the 2010 uprising — 70 or so killed and hundreds wounded. She also went to South Korea during the last round of saber rattling. We routinely beat big storms out of somewhere we’re visiting. I’m not saying we caused Brexit or wild fires in Alaska, but they are at least coincidences.

These stories, and there are a lot of stories like this, have all been derived by tourist-type trips. I stopped following chaos in-person years ago after I left the news. (I deleted five sentences with one ancient anecdote here that can best be summed up as: I miss it, conditionality.)

So here we are. Taking careful mini-vacations like people do — or used to do, or like vaccinated people do, or whatever. And wherever we go, something like this follows soon after. The Smith effect and recency bias are very real. Witness these oppressive heatwaves in a part of the country that’s probably just not prepared for them.

But when we were there during the first part of last week, it was lovely. The area was uncrowded, the scenery inspiring, the forecast each day was derived straight from the Chamber of Commerce.

And if you just walk that direction, you’ll be on the beach.

The paths and sidewalks and parking lots were all clean. You don’t notice it until you do, and then you can’t not notice it. You might not want to live there, but they make a great effort to make you want to come back and visit. (They are successful at this. Were it not for the layover and a long flight I’d say we should go again tomorrow.) This is the path that we ran on by the Pacific Coast. I ran about eight miles on this thing.

We touched on the Bell Overlook last week. There’s a brief beginner’s trail to it. You’re not there for the trail. You’re there for the interpretation.

Gymnasts. They just can’t help themselves from interpreting things. She’s even got her toes pointed there. I checked.

The trail is paved and short, but it’s always a wonder to walk through the woods in the Pacific Northwest.

The view is what you’re there for, and it does not disappoint. And if you didn’t see this last week on the site what have you been doing with your time on the Internet? You need to catch up on the catching up because it is really important that you are caught up.

There are a few small battery positions on the trail. They command great views of the Pacific.

But the view inside was even better.

Is it still a photobomb if it is deliberate, rehearsed and several versions are taken?

We’ll have to find that out another day, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’re going to check out the lighthouses. (I’ve charted this out, I’m getting at least two more days of blog posts out of this trip. Go to that part of the world if you can get a chance, is what I’m saying. It’s a pleasant experience. But wait for this heat wave to pass.)

Jun 21

Catching up, last Monday

Just like the last few days, I’m writing this in arrears. We ratcheted down our screen time over the weekend and the first part of the week while taking a brief trip. We saw a lot of lovely things and I wanted to share them here. So we’re catching up. So, yes, this is published for Friday, June 25, the day we returned. But this particular post covers Monday, June 21th.

Do you remember where you were on Monday? I do. Here’s (a lot of) visual proof.

This is Bell’s Overlook in Cape Disappointment State Park. Not so much a trail as a short walk that features the flora of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, a bit of local coastal history and these terrific views.

This is in a different part of the same park. We’re near the place where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet. In fact, you can almost just make out the river in the background in the first shot.

The confluence of the river and ocean make the waters here quite dangerous. So, though it looks calm here, no swimming, if you please. (Also, the water is quite cold.)

You’ll also see the North Head Lighthouse, which began operations in May of 1898. There’s another lighthouse nearby, which we couldn’t get to it, unfortunately. They are apparently the closest two light houses on the Pacific Coast, but even still the waters was nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

There was a print in the place where we stayed that marked the high profile shipwrecks. At least it wasn’t cheerful.

The North Head Lighthouse still works as an automated beacon. If you could go in the place — it’s a small, simply place, but closed to tours because of Covid — you could enjoy commanding views of the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach Peninsula, Columbia River Bar, and the northern Oregon Coast.

We went down to the beach.

And then retired to our own beach (doesn’t that sound awesome?) to watch the sunset.

When you watch the sun slip beneath the Pacific Ocean on the day before you have to return to … wherever you came from … you find yourself ready to stay right there, or go somewhere else.

Sadly we didn’t go to another getaway place after this one. We did enjoy another day in Long Beach, Washington, and I can milk a few days worth of posts out of those photographs, I’m sure. So we have that to look forward to next week!