16 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 18: Birds and Boats at Boiler Bay


Just on the north side of that small place called Depoe Bay is a notch in the shoreline called Boiler Bay.

There is a State Parks wayside there and we took the opportunity to pull off, go down, and listen to the surf.

Boiler Bay is not named as such because of the turbulent surf.

 Boiler Bay is named as such because a ship blew up here in 1910. It was a steam-powered schooner, the J. Marhoffer, only three years old, which exploded because of an accident with the ships boiler.

The boiler still remains, and can be seen at extreme low tides. Don't bother looking for it in the picture I've provided, in other words. And if you decide to climb down there when it is extreme low tide, be careful. People get hurt that way. 

Your puny rules, they do
not apply, to me, human.

Because of the ruggedness of the shore at that point, there is no beach access (proper, as there is really no beach). But the viewing area goes out a ways, farther than it did when I was a kid, and provided a surfeit of the things that me and the Brown Eyed Girl go to the beach for ... ocean air, the sound of surf. And seagulls.

Thing about seagulls is they knew how to spot the main chance and know who the soft touches are. When we arrived at Boiler Bay, we had a big WinCo bag of bulk pretzels; by the time we left, less than half, which made their ways into the happy gizzards of a small flock of seagulls (hey, that'd make a good name for a band, don't you think) and a couple of crows. Several juveniles amongst that flock, and at least one of them was using their baby-gull creel to pour on the cute. It worked on these soft-touches like a charm.

While Boiler Bay is one of the premier whale-watching locales on the central Coast, this is not the whale watching season. Being a scant mile or two from the mouth of Depoe Bay harbor, though, there were plenty of boats out, looking for much smaller fish, or maybe just enjoying the day out there.  And it did look like they were having a bit of fun about it.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 17: A Piece Of Hwy 101 In L.C.


This is US 101, the main street of Lincoln City, as you approach the D River Crossing at the middle of town:

Note that I said the middle, not the center. Lincoln City doesn't have a center. It has four or five of them. 

L.C. is a town of towns. In 1965, the communities of Oceanlake, Delake, Nelscott, Taft, and Cutler City, some organized towns and some not, decided they were stronger as a unit than they were separately so, like big stones on a bangle bracelet, they unified. Lincoln City was chosen by vote because it was seen as arrogant to name it after one of the larger towns. And so it became, a small town on the Oregon Coast that was scarely a mile wide ... but was about seven miles long.

And the string that holds those pearls together is US 101 (as a matter of fact, one of the rubrics for each urban center that strings together in L.C. is just that, pearls. They know what they have there, I guess).

Now this may seem a little daffy, but for me, for a visit to the beach, one of the simpler pleasures is watching the miles of L.C. roll by via a car window; watching the numbered streets count down from 40th Street in the north (at least that's where 101 joins the grid) to D River then up 69th Street in the south. 

And a picture of cars along 101 as you go through that gangly long town is one of the fondest memories I have.

12 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversarty) Part 16: The D River, If You Insist


Lincoln City geography has this much in common with that of Portland, and it's this: a river divides it and forms the basis for how the numbered streets are determined.

That's where the similarity ends.

Another few words about Lincoln City geography: It's a long, slender city. Along its northeastern side is a body of water called Devil's Lake (attributed to indigenous legend which may or may not have been misremembered by those who displaced those indigenous people ... provided it wasn't made up entirely). At its south end, Devil's Lake turns a point toward the Pacific and, from that point, issues an outlet.

It's about 400-some feet long, and it drains Devil's Lake directly to the ocean. Most of the time, though, it hardly seems much of a stream at all.

This, then, is the "D River", a vast majority of the time anyone crossing the bridge over it on Hwy 101 in the middle of Lincoln City is likely to see it. Prepare to be awed.

It was documented by the Guinness Book of World Records as world's-shortest for a very long time and the State's road signs at the time exalted it as such as it does today.

However, in 1989, Guinness changed that after a group of school children in Great Falls, Montana, had the channel that allows Giant Springs to drain to the Missouri River, having rendered a result of 201 feet. L.C. boosters countered by arguing that the D was 120 feet long at 'extreme high tide', a claim seeming to try too hard even if you love Oregon having the most remarkable of everything (as I do - my Oregon chauvinism is second to nobody's, as anyone who knows me will tell you).

Faced with having to adjudicate between a group of Oregon Coast boosters on one side and Montana schoolchildren on the other, Guinness took the utterly Solomanic approach of fully recusing itself from further authority, never to declare the world's shortest river ever again, and removing the category from their famous compendium altogether. 

While rolling up the court and going home on the Guinness part is something of a downer, it does mean that we can continue to insist it's the world's shortest river, and there isn't a thing anyone can do to contradict us about it.

And the sign still exists at the 101 bridge: D RIVER -- WORLDS SHORTEST.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) part 15: Breakfast At Lil' Sambos


This is both just a restaurant and more like a landmark. It also comes with a bit of controversy in the world of today, an interesting history, a certain misconception, and no small amount of affection.

After waking in Tillamook and driving south down 101 to Lincoln City, we decided it was well past time for a real breakfast. Like legions of people who grew up in the mid-Willamette Valley the place we usually found ourselves larking of to to see the beach was the central coast, and that meant Lincoln County, and that meant, for starters, Lincoln City.

I'm old enough that I dined as a kid at what was then called Lil' Black Sambo's, a family restaurant whose brand was taken from Scottish writer and illustrator Helen Bannerman's 1899 children's tale of a clever Indian boy who escaped being bullied by tigers by convincing them to chase tail 'round a tree until they melted down into ghee, which was then enjoyed on pancakes by the protagonist's family. And the old restaurant would serve us kids pancakes with a side of 'tiger butter'. 

Latterly, it has evolved slightly. It's now simply Lil' Sambo's, the protagonist being elided in favor of the tigers, and has lived through a fire that destroyed the building in 2004 and the 2019-now pandemic. Located at 3262 NE Hwy 101 in the Oceanlake district, it has a spiffy, more modern building built on the footprint of the old ... and a proud tiger with his stolen shorts and parasol marching on top of the sign out front. 

The interior has mementos from its now-64-year history of being in the main drag in L.C., and the decor is all about the tiger.

There is also a trinket-filled gift shop part of the restaurant, because selling such things is what you do when you've been a landmark as long as that.

The history of the business is pure 20th Century Oregon Coast. It actually exists because the Pixie Kitchen did. The Pixie Kitchen is a coastal legend that existed from 1953 to 1985 in the same area of L.C. and was the place for families with kids to stop at through the 50s and 60s (I still have fond memories of the funhouse mirrors they used to have near the dining room entry). They didn't serve breakfasts, though, so in 1957 two of their cooks opened a spot called "Pixie Pancakes" a little ways down 101. 

The restaurant history does not mention when they decided to brand as "Lil' Black Sambos" or when they decided to omit the word black from the name. 

There's another misapprehension about the name, in as much as there was once a national 24-hour diner chain called Sambo's. The name similarity tends to suggest to people that Lil' Sambos was once part of this, but that never has been, indeed, the national chain's name was derived from its two founders, Sam Battistone Jr and Newell Bohnett, and not from the children's story (though that didn't prevent them from also trading on the images from Little Black Sambo for a while). 

I really ought to mention the food, because that is, indeed why we stopped, but a place with this much history and modern issues generates more than its share of digressions, I suppose; the breakfast here is not to be missed. I had the closest thing I could find to a taco omelette on the menu, the Spanish omelette, combining salsa, sour cream, seasoned meat, olives and cheese, and it was superb. The Brown Eyed Girl treated herself to her bliss, basted eggs. 

They know how to put on a good breakfast. It was worth the trip.

The name and the heritage behind it is an issue that'll have to be resolved and it's being approached quite slowly, as any BIPOC resident of Oregon presumably might not be surprised to hear. As recently as 2020, as Willamette Week reports, there are current calls for the restaurant to retire the old and problematical brand. And the current owners are, if slow to rise to it, not wholly unaware: the WW quotes the current general manager as acknowledging that change is in the air, but is reluctant to say when. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I think they had a winner in the name "Pixie Pancakes". 

After all, pixies still ride seahorses on the outside of the building. Maybe they should embrace that.

11 September 2021

The Distant Smoke of A Distant Fire(s), 2021


About the only thing that Western Wildfire Season 2021 didn't have that the one in '20 did was thick smoke spilling into the Willamette Valley. 

Not that it didn't try, though.

On a recent evening me and The Brown Eyed Girl found a picnic area in Mount Tabor Park that we'd not known existed (and we are now in love with, because ...) that has a splendid view of Montavilla, Russellville and points east.

In the last missive I spoke of a visual miasma on the eastern horizon hiding the volcanic peak I dote on so, and it was heartbreaking, having occasionally very blue skies overhead only to mute into an unidfferentiated off-gray on the horizon. Well, as we've all seen in the news, the wildfires have been very very busy again this year, and this view from that picnic area on the slope of Mount Tabor clearly (there's irony for you, yes?) explains why:

That long, low, level nimbus in the distance is the edge of the smoke pall from all those fires. One can just name out Larch Mountain there about a quarter of the way in from the left-hand edge of the photo, and Wy'East is typically very prominently just right of that, but the smoke is completely obscuring it. 

Signs and wonders.

Snowless Wy'East


The dryness of the year is only enhanced when one looks at the state of Wy'East as it is, now. 

A few weeks back, a friend (and several others) posted up pictures of California's Shasta, utterly bereft of snow. I'm not a local to that and I imagine that late in summer, Shasta's usually down to next-to-nothing, but it was not only unsettling to see it that bare but that bare that early in the summer. That heat wave we endured took some thirty per cent off Tahoma's (Rainier) snowpack along. 

Wy'East being a more modest peak than either of those two, I had to expect no small amount of white gone. The wildfires being what they have been, I've not seen the mountain itself for a few weeks; the mantle from those east-of-the-Cascades infernos spreading westward enough to turn the eastern horizon into a visual miasma (I'll comment on that in a subsequent entry). 

Work being what it is, I come home during the afternoon now instead of the morning. And when I passed by my favorite photo spot, NE 122nd and Shaver in front of Rossi Farms, this is what I saw today:

Now, I've looked back through my historic photos and have determined that Wy'East looking this way in September is not really all that unusual (I'll post some comparisons in another subsequent post). But when seen through the lenses of this historically torrid Oregon summer and the mounting anxieties about the changing climate, it seems a little drier, a little more dessicated.

The only white left on Wy'East are its modest glaciers. Here's a close-up with the two most visible from my POV called out:

And so it, so far, goes.

09 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 14: The Marshmallows They Grow Round Heah


One thing I didn't realize is how much cropland there is in Tillamook County. I mean, you don't think of coastal counties as farmland; they're mostly hills and mountains. Not much flatland.

The character of US101 changes after you pass south of Tillamook Bay. It goes from surf-and-mountain hugging vistas to meandering around small valleys and hollows with small farms. It feels more like a highway in the interior; if it weren't for the knowledge you were in Tillamook County you might forget you were near the ocean.

Many more cornfields than I expected ... and, well, this:

A bumper crop you can bounce off of. I didn't know marshmallows that large were a thing, but I wonder if it's like a connoisseur's market, you know, like Yamhill County Pinot Noir only more exclusive.

Probably won a blue ribbon in France, or something.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 13: The Sign Of The Dutch Mill


This is just a nifty sign in downtown Tillamook. I didn't get a pic of it at night, but those windmill blades' lights are animated.

It's a 50's themed burger bar (and what isn't) at 260 Main Street in Tillamook. We came through too late to dine the night before and left town before it opened in the AM but, judging by its online menu, it's burgers and sandwiches are right up our street. 

When we pull through Tillamook again, we'll go.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 12: Passing By The Blimp Hangar


If there's one thing Tillamook is known for, it's for what was once there, just a little south of town.

The municipal airport (Port Of Tillamook Bay, to be precise) is, as some large airfields that seem too large for the small towns they serve turn out to be, is a legacy of the USA's air defense during World War II. Tillamook Naval Air Station, commissioned in 1942 and decommissioned in 1948 once had two huge hangars, Hangars A and B. Constructed of wood and built in a hurry, they were made to house blimps, and was the home of Squadron ZP-33, with a complement of 8 so-called "K-class" ships. They were, and Hangar B remains, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.

In 1992, Hangar A was destroyed in a fire. Hangar B remains and is home to the Tillamook Air Museum, which seems to still be going great guns, somewhat contradicting the news down the last decade which suggested that the Air Museum, featuring WWII aircraft, was destined to remove to Madras. 

Still, anything is possible one supposes: while Hangar B is an architectural wonder, wooden structures require constant attention ... and anything that large has got to be a maintenance armful.

Still, it's impressive even if you don't go, which we couldn't, this time. But at the corner of Long Prairie Road and US 101, about 5 or so minutes south of Tillamook, it's easily visible from the highway ... one full mile distant.

08 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) part 11: The Quilt Squares of Tillamook County


When we finally got into Tillamook,where we were destined to spend the night. I saw these patterned squares on buildings all about town.

I started calling them 'hex signs', as in: since when does Tillamook decorate its building with hex signs? That, as far as I knew, was a Pennsylvania Dutch thing, and those were all circles, not unlike a mandala.

There were several examples I caught in passing:

This one, on a lumber and building supply house just north of the city center, on the north bank of Hoquarton Slough (or, as the sign on the bridge deemed it, "The Hoquarton"):

... and this one, which was on the side of the motel (the Red Apple Inn) where we spent the night:

... and this pretty one, which I caught while very much in motion, as we left town going south:

... and this one, too, on a barn a couple miles south of town along US 101:

We were eager to go south, so we didn't explore any further. After we got home, I web-searched for "Tillamook County Hex Symbols" and came up empty-handed. Just before I wrote this, however, I did zoom in on the little name plate in the lower left of the one on the motel and it begat a web search that bore fruit.

They're large renditions of quilt squares, which led me to discover that the "Tillamook County Quilt Trail" is a thing ... with a Facebook page as well as a web site that'll tell you everything you need to know about it. The TL;DR abstract of it it is summed up on the webpage thus: to create a tie between our rich local history and the wonderful talents of local quilters. with the added benefit of encouraging tourists to spend a little more time in our community.

I find that incredibly charming. I don't see how anyone could not.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 10: The End of Highway 131


This is still a new thing for me. 

When I was but a neat thing, a baby Oregonian, and I started loving road signs, State Highways in Oregon were simple things. There were the big ones, trunk highays, I suppose, like 99E and 99W and 22 and 18, and there were all the rest, that started with the number 2.

Downtown Silverton, for example, exists at the intersection of Hwy 213 and Hwy 214. The "2" apparently  denoted less regional roads. There were no notable highways I knew of that started with "1" (and there never has been a State Hwy 1.

Before I go any farther, let me define my terms in the vernacular. The technical nomenclature for a signed State Highway is, as in other states "Route"; the rubric is "Oregon Route", so my old hometown highways were OR 214 and OR 213, where OR is the abbreviation for "Oregon Route". That is not what us proles called it though. The colloquial term for an Oregon Route, as I was growing up was "State Highway" or just, most often "Highway". More discriminating language, especially in Marion, Polk, and Clackamas counties where there were only Interstates and State Highways, just wasn't all that necessary. No US routes run through the heart of the Mid-Willamette Valley.

To ODOT, though, the term "Highway" always had a very specific meaning, quite like an internal file or catalong number. While there is no "OR 1", there is a State Hwy 1; it's OR 99 (Pacific Hwy 1), OR 99E (Pacific Hwy 1E) and 99W (Pacific Hwy 1W). Signed routes in the State Highway system function like bus routes in a city bus network: one numbered route can follow many named streets. A very typical example is the Hillsboro-Silverton Hwy No. 140: It's signed as OR 214 from Silverton to Woodburn but is OR 219 from Woodburn north to Hillsboro. A lot of state highways, however, while maintained and owned by the State of Oregon, had no route numbers.

In 2002, ODOT decided that may be it would be a useful wayfinding thing to have those highways sport route numbers, and so it was determined that all unsigned state highways should have route numbers and those route numbers, wherever possible, should simply be the highway numbers that ODOT always used internally. Prior to 2002, the road from Tillamook to Oceanside was known by local names and to the state as Netarts Hwy No. 131;, after 2002, it would be OR 131. 

It's an ongoing process. Many formerly unsigned Routes have shields up; many do not. And it gets stranger, to the lifelong 20th Century Man; whereas before, all state highways ended at other state highways, now, state highways just end. OR 131 is a route with a stub-end, and that stub-end is in Oceanside.

So, now, I'm confronted with this signage, which fascinates me as does a shiny thing a corvid:

One other thing of interest here: the red post on the STOP sign. This is a Tillamook County thing, as far as I can see, and I saw it often in that county, but this is a clever and good idea and I think it should catch on.

In Tillamook County, see, no matter what else you tell Mr. Officer Sir, you cannot tell him you didn't see the stop sign.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 9: Oceanside At Sunset


The sun was setting and we made it as far as Oceanside. 

Tillamook County is unique on the north and central Oregon Coast that there are significant areas of inland settlement - from Lincoln north to Clatsop, towns and people tend to cling to the shore. Tillamook, the county's seat and largest town (not saying much there, since there's not even 6,000 people that call that town home) is more than 5 miles inland, though not far from the southern end of its eponymous Bay, so to go to the beach from Tillamook takes about 20-30 more minutes.

Protip: don't head out west from Tillamook on Hwy 131 toward Oceanside near sunset. That road is pointed straight the sun during this time of year and it is brutal.

'Twas the Brown Eyed Girl's hope that we'd find a small, old-but-not-too-shabby roadside motel that we could hear some surf from. We never did, but in the end it was okay. We did get to Oceanside, which is where Hwy 131 ends, just as the sun was setting.

It was setting behind Three Arch Rocks.

The Three Arch Rocks, are, from left, Finlay Rock, Middle Rock, and Shag Rock. These three large seastacks and about six smaller rocks nearby are quite unique; they form the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge. Created in 1907, it's the first NWR west of the Mississippi; at about 15 acres, it's amongst the smallest (if not the smallest). Oregon's largest puffin colony can be found there, and it's an important nesting ground for murres. In the foreground is the parking area for the state wayside there.

From this POV, if one turns 'round, one sees this:

... which is downtown Oceanside. Oceanside isn't a city so much as it's an unincorporated community, a small charming patch of Tillamook County with a handful of business and a number of people who live there as well as a number of people who come and go occasionally.

I've developed the impression that many Coast communities don't have people living there so much as they have people staying there, if one follows my distinction.

Turn around and look up the hill, and you have uptown Oceanside.

Pretty vertiginous perches, no? Those things are gonna rock and roll when Cascadia Next happens. 

But they are enviously luxurious.

07 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 8: The Smokestack At Garibaldi. And Stuff. And Things.


Garibaldi is the next town on the road, a little fishing port on the north end of Tillamook Bay but, this being Oregon, fishing wasn't always what it was all about. Not near all those forests.

About 800 people live there today. It was bigger in the past, but not by all that much. When you come into Garibaldi, you'll notice two things: the big letter G on the hillside overlooking the town, and a tall smokestack.

Back in the early part of the 20th Century, a lot of lumber came off those Coast Range hillsides, and a fair portion of it came through the lumber mill in the town which was at a spot that is, today, basically the east end of Main Street. It was owned by a number of people, most notably a coastal lumber baron named Hammond, and in 1927 the smokestack was constructed to keep mill emissions from settling directly on the town. 


It's almost a century old and is undoubtedly one of the tallest man-made things on the Oregon Coast. 

For my money, though, the real tragedy is what used to be on the northwest corner of 7th and Garibaldi. In all the world there are, it seems more names for

Kyped from Google
Street View

thrift shops than there are thrift shops. Or maybe there are too many thrift shops. But, for a brief, shining moment about a decade back, and it didn't seem too long, there was a second-hand store there with the best second-hand store name ever (and I will fight you on this):


Which is what we say around here when we're woolgathering. You know. That something you can't remember. With the stuff and the things.

Stuff and Things ... I'm sorry we missed you.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 7: The Sun Over A Specific Ocean


This is the sort of photo you shouldn't take with your digital camera but I risk it occasionally: I love the flare of the sun and the sea with an about-to-be-setting sun, why, I've always felt that rather romantic.

This was a glance back over the shoulder as we left Neahkahnie Mountain and got underway toward Garibaldi and Tillamook. I pointed, composed plentyquick and snapped the shutter.

Camera seems fine. Just don't make habit of it, yes.

06 September 2021

The Ron Tonkin Sign - Still Out 122nd Way


I have taken a picture of this sign before, so its reappearance here is just confirmation that some things in Portland stay, for now, satisfyingly familiar.

Picture it: it's the 60s, and East 122nd isn't the commercial corridor that it is today, and is certainly a lot more whitebread. And, out in this area, two brothers build competing car dealerships.

If they ever gave this road a name-name, it should perhaps be Tonkin Boulevard. At the north end, at NE Halsey St, Marv Tonkin built a Ford dealership (now Courtesy Ford) that left us a long time ago but whose jingle still rattles around in the mind of some of us old-timers.

It's brother Ron's dealership, however, that survived, and became a local empire unto itself, including a Nissan dealership across from his brother's old location (spun off into Russom's Nissan of Portland) and a ultra-luxury dealership called Ron Tonkin's Gran Turismo (which has latterly removed to Wilsonville). 

The 122nd Ave dealership still stands strong in its original location though,as does the three-story sign, which was a common thing back when things like this were built but today is, truly, the last of an ancient breed, even outliving its namesake founder.

I mean, even the old Wentworth Chevytown sign (and the used-car lot it was planted in) is gone now.

But long may Ron razzle-dazzle us, out 122nd way.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 7: The View From Neahkahnie Mountain


At the northwest corner of Tillamook County, there's a headland called Neahkahnie Mountain. US 101 cruises along it.

Neah kah nie, according to MacArthur (Oregon Geographic Names) might be translated as the place of the god Acarna in the language of the Tillamook, the indigenous people of the area (if you see the name 'Necarney' elsehwere in the area, the derivation may be similar). 

In terms of a scenic viewpoint, it's close to incomparable.


The viewpoint, about 400 feet up as the GPS metadata from this photo indicates, is looking approximately southeast, and takes in a number of notable locations.

I've pointed them out in this annotated version, herewith:

We take in quite a bit of territory, yes? All gorgeous.

The beach at our feet is interesting because, unlike most of the beaches one gets do in this section of the coast, it seems quite rocky rather than sandy.

It's a testament to the super-zoom powers of the point-n-shoot, the Canon PowerShot SX 230 HS, that I can get this short of Wheeler, on the shore of Nehalem Bay, more than 5 miles away.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 6: Considering Oswald West


If you enjoy the Oregon Coast, and stop to think how much easy access modern Oregonians have to so very much beach, think of Oswald West.

Oswald West, born in Canada, was Oregon's 14th governor; he served one term from 1911 through 1915 (he declined to run for a second term). His legacy is a decidedly mixed bag. Not only was he a ardent prohibitionist, he promoted Oregon's Eugenics law of 1913 (Google "Portland Vice Scandal", where gay men were victimized. Not a pretty picture.)

However, in another important way he was visionary. It's because of him we have all this beach access, access to a degree that leaves visitors to Oregon typically stunned.

At the Neahkahnie Mountain viewpoint, looking south on US 101 in northwestern Tillamook County, there is the following monumental plate:

The monument reads thus:

--- - ---

This much is truth, too. Under Oswald West, the Oregon Highway Commission - the forerunner of today's ODOT - was created in 1913, and proclaimed the Oregon Beach Highway Law, which declared Oregon's beach coastline as a public highway to the high water line. This was the seed which finally bore fruit as the Beach Bill, HB 1601 of 1967, during the Tom McCall administration.

This is why Oregonians have all that beach to play on.

04 September 2021

Sur la Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 5: Cannon Beachfront


... to close out the day's debouche, just a simple look out over the sand from the end of Second Street, city center Cannon Beach, made special by the sprinkling of birds thereupon.

Sur la Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 4: Haystack Rock from Hemlock Street


Again, Haystack Rock, but a much closer view.

The main street through the middle of Cannon Beach is Hemlock Street. coming south out of city center it ascends a hill and curves about quite a bit. This is your best vantage point from the road, if you can find a spot to pull over.

While the earlier pix from the beachfront at Tolovana Park are romantic and pretty, POV gives you a much better idea of just how hulkingly large Haystack rock is, some blocks back from the beach and up the side of a hill, it's a rather intimidating thing.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 3: Kites and Sandcastles


My subtitle elaborates a bit, but it sounds romantic that way. 

But it is a fact that even if Oregon's state bird is the western meadowlark (unless it's the osprey now; I don't know how that debate shook out to be honest), at the beach, the state bird is the kite

Here's one in splendiforous plumage.

And wouldn't you know it, developers have been here too. I mean, probably some condo for upscale crabs, or something.

I mean, here in Portland that'd be $1,600/month, first, last, deposit, 12 month lease, right?

01 September 2021

Sur La Mer (Our 31st Anniversary) Part 2: Scenes From Tolovana Park


Our destination this day, as mentioned, was Cannon Beach: artistic, rustic, adorable Cannon Beach.

Like many towns along the Oregon Coast, it's longer than it is wide; it stretches along about two miles of beach but only goes back maybe about 1,000 feet at its widest. Address-Nerd-wise, this is how a town with only about 2,500 residents can have a 4000 block. 

Anyway. the best place to have a look outside of downtown is the south-side neighborhood called Tolovana Park, which amounts to the half of town south of the knobby hill just south of the downtown area. There one finds the Tolovana Beach State Wayside, which is merely steps from the sand.

It's quite a popular place.

Oregonians at the beach doing what Oregonians at the beach do. In the distance are a group of rocks at a small promontory called Silver Point; the biggest one is called Jockey Cap.

They're gorgeous, but they don't quite compare with the icon you see looking the other way.

It's 230 feet worth of iconic seastack, and they call it, for obvious reasons, Haystack Rock. If there's a rock that can stand in for the entire Oregon Coast, this surely must be a candidate.

The small rocks off to the left of it are collectively known as The Needles. And in front are two more Oregonians doing what Oregonians do at the beach.

Here now a more postcard-y approach that I'm quite proud of:

I took many many pictures of the rock because I have had none up until now and I was atoning for that. 

Another thing I took many pictures of was surf, for surf's sake. They say you can't hear a picture but I know the sound that resonates in the skull when I look at this one: 

Surf is a magical thing, even if you don't ride the waves. 

The glassy sheen of wet beach is its own poetry.

Sur La Mer, (our 31st Anniversary), Part 1: Portland to the Coast


The pandemic and other centrifugal force hammered our chances at a 30th wedding anniversary that was anything other than mild stress and deferred disappointment.

We made up for it this year. We brought some healing ... after all, what Oregonian waits more than a decade for a visit to the coast?

Last Thursday, buoyed on the goodwill of a friend or two and with a Brown Eyed Girl who knows from budgeting, we made new memories. 

From sea level to 4000 feet.

From the waves to the volcano.

Hither we hence.

The journey of a thousand words starts at home, and home is Portland. I don't get in as many skyline shots as I used to, and there have been many more changes. That big slate colored variegated thing in front of my beloved Wells Fargo Tower, for instance. This is our new County Courthouse.

It's about as exciting a design as a legal form. 

The Brown Eyed Girl chose the start of the route and let whim take over after that. It was US 26, our Sunset Highway, that would be our route out. And it was an uneventful and mundane drive as we won free of the west-side suburban belt, eventually to emerge into the rolling farmland west and north of Hillsboro. 

West of Banks one passes through dilute communities with names like Timber and Manning and you're now in backcountry NW Oregon -- the one with all them hills and all them trees.

Transiting Oregon's Coast Range on a road trip is something everyone should do, I think. No matter what witticisms I might drop, it's an easy way to feel far away from everything and your road trip becomes a quite conversation with not only your travelling companions, but the world outside your car.

Unlike the other main routes west from the Valley, the Sunset Highway route has a little treat. Everyone knows about the Vista Ridge Tunnel, back in the city, but not everyone thinks of this one:

This is a tunnel that was built in the mid-1940s (I've no idea how they got round this hill before then). It was, at the time, known as the Sunset Tunnel. In the winter of 1999, however, we had remarkably heavy rain and the tunnel was looking as though its structural integrity was questionable. 

ODOT sent a maintenance super, a man named Dennis Edwards, out to inspect, and while in the tunnel, it made good on its promise, collapsing on him and killing him. 

In respect of his memory, they named it for him: it's officially the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel. it has a button to mash, there on the lower right, which will set the lights on that sign over the top of the portal to flashing on behalf of bicyclists who will want you to know they are in there.

Otherwise, tunnel traffic goes on as ever, with all motorists honking loudly while going through it, because that's what you do in a tunnel.

Our destination, guided partly by whim and partly by desire, was to be Cannon Beach.

14 July 2021

Portland Winterhawks Debut A Superb New Logo


As is being reported by various news outlets, such as KGW, here, Portland's WHL hockey franchise, the Winterhawks, are updating their logo and entire graphic identity system.

It's a timely change. I doubt it's escaped the notice of anyone likely to read this blog, but the growing awareness of cultural appropriation and what it means in today's society is an issue that we must meet in some way. The professional sports world, which has in the past helped itself fairly readily to cultural symbols from, in a great amount, indigenous First Nations cultures, has met it in a variety of ways ranging from embracing the change to obstinately resisting it. 

The Winterhawks' now-former logo is problematic for at least two reasons: the image itself being a First Nations warrior, and the method of original adoption - back in tthhe 1970s, the team originally had to scrounge for uniforms, and some surplus Chicago Blackhawks uniforms were available, and the team apparently just rolled with the design.

The logo and identity redesign released today meets the challenge of sports team identity in the modern age where casual cultural appropriation is an issue rather admirably, I think. The new main logo ...

.... divorces itself from the old in a way that is positive and aspriational, really. The head of a red-tail hawk, colored white to reflect snow and ice, the detail in the head feathers acknolwedging the past in a positive manner, the stylized mountain, even the artful concealing of the letters W and H in the mountain's detail. There is much to like about this logo, and a perfect time for its introduction to have a positive impact.

There is more to the identity system than this; a whole range of wordmark and palette design changes that are throrough and thoughtful. It's most impresssive, and can be seen via a link to a Scribd file at the KGW story which I've linked here: https://www.kgw.com/article/sports/hockey/winterhawks/portland-winterhawks-replace-native-american-logo-mascot-unveil-new-logo/283-a2266c1c-671e-4a6e-89bc-05892b0f6af6

11 July 2021

Tackling The Elephant, Part 3


It's an unanswerable question, I suppose, and everyone who fancies themselves artists asks themselves something similar: 

It was such a simple step. What took me so long?

Today I took that yellow ochre sketch and added burnt sienna for the shadow areas, and the form rose off the canvasboard to meet my eye.


The point of the work is to explore using directed strokes to impart a feeling of volume and I'm actually fairly thrilled to be able to say to myself that I have grasped that just a bit. 

Burnt sienna also for the shadow under the elephant and darkening in the trees in the distance.

This is the warm underpainting that will support the cooler colors I'll by layering atop ... for which stay tuned anon.

09 July 2021

Tackling The Elephant, Part 2


I like this silhouette bit more than the last time I did it. A lot more. 


I am trying to copy as close the original as I can. I was unhappy at first, with my inability to sketch this out using paint and then I had trouble thinning stuff out to the way I wanted it.

It's still not perfect. But it's better.

07 July 2021

At Last I Try To Tackle The Elephant


Over a year and a half before this, I was working through a book called Learn to Paint in Acrylics With 50 Small Paintings. I got up to number 46, a painting of an elephant that explores contour painting techniques. And it was at that point that, for some reason, even though I had absorbed many of the techniques well, or so I had thought, I ran into the wall I ran into so very many times.

It's not a wall so much as a fog that pushes back. I can spend time dissecting it but knowing what stopped me wouldn't have done much more than given me labels for it all. If you're trying to reinvent yourself as an artist, you know what I'm talking about without another word and I can't find one anyway.

So it all sat there on my drawing board for more than a year, waiting for me to get back to it, while I did PBNs, wasted time off a dwindling life span (statistics being what they are) and letting my social media addiction get the best of me. Not that different from the billions of self-made aspiring artists in the virtual world, really.

I thought about the idea of shortcuts and assists, then. It occurred to me one of the things I didn't like about that first attempt at this was I couldn't sketch out the shape in yellow ochre and feel confident about it; the harder I tried, the sourer it felt. This, I theorize, is what pushed me off the track and landed me straight in the mud. And all the inertia and ennui followed.

It occurred to me that I didn't have to be flawless about my sketching to start and further, I already knew techniques that would allow me to transfer a reference to the media. It was so simple! It just involved, in this case, printing a copy of a scan from the page, coating the back of it with soft graphite (4B Prismacolor Monolith, for what that's worth) laying the print on my media (still the eight-by-eight canvasboard) and rubbing.

A bone folder from my GD days did the burnishing duty. This is what I have:

That light gray pattern is a basic outline concentrating on the shadow areas. It should be enough to get me started, again.

Wish me luck.

The Ancient Tome Has Been Recovered


The secrets. I has them now. THE SECRETS ARE MINE.

The book: Editorial Cartooning. The author: Dick Spencer III, School of Journalism, State University of Iowa. Published by The Iowa State College Press, 1949. 

Since I've managed to acquire just about every modern art technique book I'm likely to want I have begun to be fond of vintage art instruction books. Bob Ross, Mark Crilley, Christopher Hart, all those, have defined this genre, but even they stand on others' shoulders: Jon Nagy, Bill Alexander, and others. Those forbears are oftimes as interesting as their intellectual descendants. 

Never heard of this Dick Spencer III guy, though. I intend to find out. Important enough to author a college-published book about the subject. 

I have some suspicion that the secrets may be beyond their pull-dates though.

05 July 2021

Trippy Walk Signal With SPC Firefly Lights


This is, of course, one of my new favorite things. Credit the Brown Eyed Girl with the inspiration.


What happens here is you take one of those little 30-ct mulit-function silver-cord firefly lights that Sierra Pacific Crafts makes, and if you're lucky you have one of these lenses from a vintage crossing signal, and you just set the lights up behind it and let it go. The frosted glass in the translucent parts do the job they were intended to and the result is a very gentle trippiness.

There's a story behind that piece of glass. Back when Bill Trafton owned the VW shop at 157th and Stark, his shop was a gallimaufy of the sort you'd expect a mechanic of his calibre who's been in business for multiple decades to have. And he, for no clear reason but much gratitude from me, laid this upon me. The Brown Eyed Girl had the lights and realized that putting the two together was a natural thing. 

Trafton VW still exists, but really just as a name. A few years back, Bill retired at long last and a European auto repair operation called Steve's Imports (their main office is down on SE 92nd between the Springwater Trail crossing and the light at Flavel. When they bought Trafton's they brought a slick, shiny operation in and moved all the old-school groove out.

Now, don't get me wrong ... I'll bet they do superlative work, and probably with prices to match. Bill Trafton was the kind who'd have a VW boneyard in the back and give you a copy of Muir's Idiot's Guide or maybe even spot you the price on an expensive repair. 

He had that old-school VW spirit, and was a one-of-a-kind guy. The new operators are professionals and good at what they do ... but nowhere near as charming. 

So it goes.

A Couple Of Other Things I Love About I've Been Framed


... and they are that ladykin and that window sign.

The ladykin has haunted the front part of the store for nearly a decade I think, and I first met that delightful window sign in about 2012. Mark told me a little story about it, that it was painted by another IBF fan based on a Banksy work. I just like the wittiness of it, the way it reminds me of a magazine cover, and the sassy little thanks a lot! in the lower left corner.

The back wall, I recognize; it's left of entrance as you come in ... well, when you could come in, pre-pandemic. I understand Prairie and the staff are re-thinking the store layout to make it more traffic-friendly; the idea, if I understand it correctly, is to make it so people can browse and also put some of that social-distancing logic in.

Since everything is opening up I was hoping to hear the same sort of thing coming out of my beloved IBF, but there's been nothing ... yet. And I support this, because Prairie knows best. 

The picture, for what it's worth, was taken sometime in 2017. So near in the past yet so very far away.