May 30, 2003

warm tins of meat

We didn’t have any 9:00 lessons today so I got to spend a bit of my morning out on the water. This free-time is bittersweet, as I have bills and rent and a credit card to pay off and right now I need work more than I need play time. I have three bucks in my Twin Cities account, twenty-five bucks in my wallet and some money in a new account I opened up out here (but can’t access yet, because I haven’t received my checks or cash card in the mail). The Dragon needs gas and I need beer.

This morning was cold. Windy, rainy and cold. The rain fell sideways and stung my skin like beads of mercury. I was the lone crazy windsurfer out in the Hook, practicing tacks and jibes on my Mistral Classic 285. After an hour my joints got so chilled that I couldn’t sail anymore, so I pulled it all into shore. While taking apart my rig my hands were two clumsy tins of potted meat, and the wind kept trying to throw my board off my car before I could get it strapped down.

I warmed up in my car for a bit, eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich and listening to the Postal Service. When the rain died down I stepped outside and talked with Brian for awhile. He was really excited about a new teaching style he was trying out this year, one that involved using muscle memory and experimentation more than instruction. He explained to me how it was incompatible with the jaded manner of instruction you sometimes find in the Gorge (or at ski resorts, or at colleges, or wherever). He appreciated that I was fresh to the scene, and said that I have a warm soul. I liked that.

On a side note, all you Woochers should get a kick out of this billboard, that I saw on my drive through Idaho.

On another side note, I just started listening to the band Snowpony a bit. They’re chamber poppish, like a heavier version of Matt Pond PA with a female vocalist.


May 29, 2003

round the town

Hood River is a Chacos town. Everywhere you go people are wearing Chacos. My co-workers down at the shop wear Chacos. Employees at other shops wear Chacos. In-towners and Out-towners alike wear Chacos. The girl walking home from school that looked at my Converse All-Stars and said “Nice shoes” was wearing Chacos.

All-Stars, you ponder. Why wasn’t he in his Chacos? Well, the first few days of working down at the Hook made my feet discover sandal hot-spots they never knew they had. By day three the knuckles on my big toes were cracked and bleeding and I needed to do something. Typically in Hood River, if you’re not in Chacos you’re in a pair of Reefs, which are quite possible the world’s most comfortable flip-flop. Since Reefs ain’t great for active stuff they can’t replace Chacos, but when you’re just mulling about there’s nothing like having a solid thwack-thwack-thwack follow you around.

But it was a day for movin’, not mullin’. I spent today wandering aimlessly through Hood River, figuring out what sort of greatness I have at my disposal. When I leave my front door and walk fifty feet to the right, I can see Mount Adams craning its fat white neck over the Gorge. I walked into downtown and eventually ran into Tom, a guy whose house I checked out when I was out here in March. He was selling fallafels from a cart near the post office. I also ran into Nelson (Nelly-Matata) from the shop, swung by his house, sat in the lawn for a bit and ate sweet corn. A woodpecker plucked bugs from an oak tree.

I got an iced latte from Holstein’s and set it down on a counter while browsing some hemp twine at a hippie shop. I reached for it without looking to take a drink, and accidentally picked up a Buddha statue instead. I decided that drinking the Enlightened One was not the path to Nirvana.

I walked into the local Macintosh store and almost got in a fight with the owner. He was all talkin’ ’bout the clock cycles, how a Mac can run its 800 MHz processor faster than a PC’s 2.5 GHz and such. I started talkin’ smack ’bout that stat, callin’ it a myth and such, and he told me to run benchmarks with Photoshop and kicked me out of the store.

I went to the Full Sail Brewery to take a tour, and while waiting for our guide to show I noticed that they were playing String Cheese Incident over the stereo. I found it funny, as earlier they were playing Round the Wheel over at the Windwing shop, too. Turns out that a couple years ago, Cheese used to play fairly often at the River City Saloon.

Our tour guide was wearing Chacos. Bart at Windwing was wearing them as well.

This town, I can dig it.

After the brewery tour we got free pint glasses and lots of free samples, which made sure I was good and tipsy when I went to the library to get signed up for a card. At the library I perused some books on the Pacific Northwest, and started triangulating the location of Bagby Hot Springs.

Walking home, I saw two young boys who had made up the best game ever. It involved a lawn sprinkler and a set of golf clubs. I also walked by a residential garage that had a sign out front boasting “Picture Gallery”, but when I looked inside it was just two guys with rifles.

the brain works overtime

Last night I had a dream it was finals week and I had forgotten to write a seven page essay for my web design final. No matter, I thought, for it was only Wednesday and the paper wasn’t due until Thursday. Then I remembered we moved the due date up to Wednesday. I was screwed.

My father said I’ll be having these collegiate dreams for fifteen years, yet.

I also dreamed we were running around in a building that was one-third abandoned warehouse, one-third university and one-third old castle. There were lots of rats running around on the floors, on the walls and squirming about in the sofas. They looked like dachshunds so I picked one up to pet it. It kept biting me.

At one point a high school hockey team showed up and dropped off their gear bags. We never saw them again. Their team colors were red and white.

Outside at night, one of my friends tried to stomp on a huge spider. Turns out it was a scorpion. Makes me think he should have stuck to the scorpion bowls down at Jack’s.

While driving down the road (which looked a lot like South Dakota) to the castle we passed a number of other neat abandoned buildings. Some were fancy company buildings with green tinted glass. It looked like they had been abandoned after the dot com disaster, and years of graffiti and kids on motorbikes had taken their toll.

There was no nuclear reactor, but I’m sure it’ll pop back up in due time.

May 28, 2003

lochsa lodge

Driving through the Bitterroot Mountains, he pulled over Lolo Pass and descended into the Lochsa River Valley. He had never before traversed northern Idaho, and started feeling a tad bit nervous when a sign boasted that the next town wasn’t for 77 miles. He had enough gas to make 50 at the most, and that was on a clean stretch of road. Now he was presented with an asphalt snake, coiling its way through the mountains.

Few traveled this way. Most preferred the interstate, the clean dash of double-wide lanes nourishing the continent. He preferred the backroads. This country wasn’t built on interstates, it was built on crazy winding paths connecting one city to another. Blip to blip to blip. Only by chance did these roads draw the coasts together. With two narrow lanes and a double yellow line you get to look people in the eyes. Some even wave at you. Mostly in the Dakotas, where the states have drawn such a bad rap from the rest of the country that citizens have to make up for it through personal intervention.

But not everyone would wave at you, especially when there was no one else around. At times on his drive he could go thirty minutes without ever seeing a soul. And this is what had him worried now. Running down the spine of a mountain into the vast pine forests of northern Idaho he knew he needed a gas station. Soon.

A sign! A lodge! They would surely have fuel! He veered off the main road and wound down to the valley floor. He pulled up to the pumps, drew the nozzle and pulled the trigger.


He tried again, but the pumps were turned off. He frowned. How could they be closed? It’s 9:00 in the morning!

Rather, 8:00 in the morning. He set his watch for the new time zone and crunched through the gravel drive to the lodge. It was a huge log building, freshly built, apparently, after the last one burned down.

The inside was straight out of Twin Peaks, done up with hardwood floors, walls and ceiling, with a fieldstone fireplace hulking in the middle of the main room. A big band arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” was playing over invisible speakers.

The place was mostly empty. He approached the lone occupied table where three old, grizzled loggers camped out over their morning coffee.

“Excuse me, do you guys know how I can get some gas around here?”

“Besides eating here?”

“I mean for my car.”

“Go in back and talk to the people there. They own the place.”

He stepped back into the kitchen. A woman stood at a large iron stove, frying pancakes and bacon.

“Any chance I can get someone to turn on the gas pumps?”

“Sure, hon. Just go outside and wait. I’ll have someone there in a couple minutes.”

He went outside and waited. As promised, a girl came over from the lodge and unlocked the convenience store. She fired up the pumps, which choked and quivered to life in the mountain air. Dollars and cents clicked away on their little dials as he filled the tank with life. Finished, he paid and got back in his car.

He jammed the trip odometer with his thumb and the numbers spun to zero.

pixel-y goodness

A few pictures from my drive out have been posted in the Photolog. Start here and work your way forward.

More will be posted this evening. Right now I need to head down to the River and get dialed into some wind.

from my west-bound windshield

Statistics from my drive out here:

Number of days driving: 3

Number of hours driving: 36

Number of states nailed: 7 (MN, SD, ND, MT, ID, WA, OR)

Number of middle fingers received: 2 (but one was from an abandoned leather work glove on the side of the road and doesn’t really count)

Number of middle fingers given: 2

Things I saw:

Skeleton trees

Cigarette pizza

Too many suspicious Office Max employees in Aberdeen, SD (as I tried to find a computer to blog from)

A town named “Local Access”

The highest point in North Dakota (summit attempted, failed)

“It looks like blood but smells like tree sap.”

The lodge from Twin Peaks

A town in Idaho named Syringia. The only place in America (besides Soho) where everyone is a heroin addict.

A cow skeleton (that still had its plastic ear tag buried in some uneaten cartilage)

Bruce, a civil engineer and professor at the University of Tennessee, who knew Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (and U of T) fame.

Good band names discovered:

Death by Butterflies

Middle of Somewhere

May 27, 2003

werd to ya’ll folks

Yes, I am still alive. More than alive, chillin’ like Bob Dylan in Hood River.

We just got the cable modem up and running. I’m on day one of my three day weekend this week, and unfortunately the wind is down so windsurfing is kind of outta the question. There’s plenty of other neat stuff ’round here to see, though. When I return this eve I’ll start filling in the blanks with words and pictures, what with a 36 hour drive and three long days of work under my belt

For now, Mount Hood beckons.

May 17, 2003

new towels

My muscles and brain are slowly unknotting themselves.

Currently in Madison. The last time I tried to write this entry the computer suddenly shut off when I hit ‘post’. I sat stunned for a moment and shouted downstairs:

“Did you guys throw the circuit breaker?”

Well, of course they did. Tyler and my father were working on the light switches for the stairs, which really haven’t worked since Greta and Tyler got the house. You flip one switch and the stairs appear, and if you flip the other one they’re supposed to disappear. It’s a theft-deterrent, really. If someone breaks into the house you run upstairs and flip the switch so the steps disappear behind you. If the burglar is on the stairs when you flip ’em he’ll slam into the basement floor in a comical gesture, at which point you start dropping flower pots on his head.

Anyways. Today we went to my sister’s graduation ceremony at UW Madison. David Zucker (the genius behind Airplane!, Police Squad, the Naked Gun and Top Secret) gave a commencement speech which was tailor-fit for me. He gave all the fresh graduates two main points of advice. Well, actually he gave five, but I can’t remember them all. Maybe I can remember three. Let’s see…

1. Skip your graduation ceremony.

2. Move out west.

3. Think about the future, but don’t live there. Everything neat happens now. And now. And now. How about now?

4. No one cares about your failures more than you do. Eat pie with John Travolta.

5. Don’t let convention or authority stand in your way. If you’ve got a better idea, preach it, brutha.


Hmm. I guess of his five I can remember six. Well, I’ve taken care of #1, and #2 will come by Tuesday or Wednesday. As for #3, I’ve started ignoring questions that ask how long I’ll be in Oregon, whether or not this is gonna be a permanent gig, whether or not I like my toast buttered and why the heck I’m doing something that has nothing to do with my major. Folks, my path may have nothing to do with my major, but it has everything to do with my life. In the immortal words of Hank Ryanins, spoken on day four of camping in the Oregon backcountry, “YOU DON’T OWN ME, RAIN.” I can do whatever I want, and right now I want to do this. And it’s gonna rock your socks before it’s all said and done, I guarantee you.

As for John Travolta… well, these things take time.

In other news, Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby. What a great name for a horse. DEATH BY HUMOR. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll DIE. It’ll be like Bill and Teds Bogus Journey after you see Primus take the stage! It’ll be like the Matrix Reloaded after you learn that the Matrix was written in Unix!


You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll die!

The full text of Zucker’s speech.