June 2, 2003

definition of terms

I have realized that my life and blog have acquired a number of ‘The’ terms that I find to be descriptive. I have realized, as of late, that other people may not share my causal history with these terms, and may be a bit confused when I refer to something by a proper name without describing it. So, let us establish a list of definitions, starting from the most recent and working backwards.

The Hook: A protected bay on the Columbia River in Hood River, Oregon that is shaped like a hook. This is the place to go in the Gorge if you want to learn how to windsurf. My windsurfing shop has pictures of the Hook on their website. People that work at the Hook eventually suffer from what is called Hook Foot, where one’s toes are stubbed on absolutely everything and are soon rendered a scabbed and bloody mess. Think hamburger. Now leave it in the sun for 800 hours.

The Hatch: Also called the Fish Hatchery. Across the River from Hood River on the Washington side of the Gorge, the Hatch is the place to go and see (or do) some wicked-ass windsurfing. We’re talkin’ high winds and five foot swells, people. We’re talkin’ serious air time. If you’ve ever seen killer jump pics from the Gorge, they were snapped at the Hatch. Somewhere around here they grow fish, too. Who knew.

The River: The Columbia River, which drains down from northern Washingon, for a time is the border between Oregon from Washington, and flows through Portland out into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria.

The River is not to be confused with the river of Hood River or the town of Hood River. The town of Hood River is the town that I’m living in. The river of Hood River is the river that runs through the town that I’m living in. People kayak or fly fish or mountain bike or drown in the river of Hood River. We do not windsurf in the river of Hood River. The river of Hood River drains off from the mountain of Mount Hood, but does not drain off the town of Mount Hood. The town of Mount Hood has a beautiful view of the mountain of Mount Hood but is not actually perched on the slopes of Mount Hood. There are a number of towns that have much better views of Mount Hood and are much closer to Mount Hood, but did not have the audacity to name themselves Mount Hood. One town did, however, have the nerve to call itself Government Camp.

Let’s move on.

The Gorge: The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. A section of the United States of America deemed so beautiful that they drew thick green lines around it. The Gorge is a thick gash of rocks, trees and wind that separates Oregon from Washington. We live in the Gorge. We windsurf in the Gorge. We love the Gorge.

The Dragon: The Green Dragon Wagon. My 1995 Mercury Tracer Wagon. This little car drove from Duluth to Zion National Park, Utah. This little car drove from Duluth to Hood River, Oregon. This little car gets 30 miles to the galleon. This little car just rolled over to 133,400 miles. This little car kicks everyone’s ass.

The Lake: Lake Superior. The biggest damn lake in the whole wide world. I lived on its shores for four years. I swam in it in January. I windsurfed in it in October. I fell in love in its autumn forests. I had my heart broken in its winter storms. I got a concussion in its mountains.

Funny story about that concussion, too. In the mail today I got a letter forwarded from my UMD address from two years ago. It was from the hospital in Ironwood, Michigan. I popped it open and inside was a check for $32.50. Apparently I had overpayed for the excellent service I enjoyed in their emergency room.

The Cities: The Twin Cities Metro Area. My youthful stomping grounds, which have since choked with traffic and beltways that encircle the city like the projected damage map for an atom bomb.

The Youth Hostel: My house in Hopkins, Minnesota, where I grew up. I don’t live there anymore, so now my parents take in stray college kids who need a place to live in the Cities. One of my friends lives there and studies graphic design at a community college. Another friend lives there and works at an internship in graphic design.

I won’t be surprised to return home and find the basement converted into a digital studio, with thin-eyed photographers and bleak beatniks and web programmers and monkey butlers scurrying around. There will be so many rip-roarin’ computers crammed into that space that they’ll need to liquid cool the air we breathe. The entire basement will be one huge case mod, with plexi-glass windows backlit by LEDs, and circular chrome bars caging in plastic fans.

I hope this list clears things up a bit.