30 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary), Part 27: Port-land, Oregon


The symmetry of this sign pleases me greatly.

Portland is a city in Oregon, but Oregon is a Port-land as well. Waldport, Newport, here a port, there a port, everywhere a port-port.

The way the traffic has to access the bridge requires that the arrow for Newport points toward Waldport, and the one point to Waldport, Newport. Do not be misled ... or if you are, at least have fun with it. 

The Pencil You Need When You Don't Need To Make A Point


There's a whole sheaf of these, they really exist (my 'shopping skills were never even close to that apt), and they may still be at I've Been Framed, if one is so inclined to try and get them.

The beauty of a pencil with an eraser on each end is that you're not only not likely to make a mistake with one but since you aren't, those erasers are going to last a very, very, very long time.

28 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 26: We Headed for Waldport After This Picture, Promise


... however, I never promised I wouldn't ever post another picture of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, and that's a not-promise I never not am intending to not ... ah, break.

The narrow angle with the roadway (taken from the loop road around and under the bridge and next to that entrance to Yaquina Bay State Park) provides the visual punch and, not coincidentally, highlights the handsome styling of the bridge piers and supports.

The Colors of I've Been Framed, or: Roy G. Biv is a Friend of Mine


I've babbled about this before, but only a fraction of the pleasure of going to an art supply store, especially IBF, is just looking at all the pretty art supplies, and by pretty I mean all the colors.

All the colors.

I'm not sure which is prettier, that spectrum of the ends of the Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils with all its order and nuance, or that spangly, speckly, adorably random chaos of the pencil 'lead' ends in the box immediately left of that.

You know, of course, you don't have to choose. You can say yes to both.

These encaustic color sticks are vibrant, but still muted somehow. 

Encaustic painting, in case you didn't know, is painting with pigmented wax. Those sticks seen there are small blocks of exceptionally high-quality wax with the pigment within. It's an interesting mode, but not one that's particularly for me ... but the colors? Wouldn't miss that for the world.

Roy G. Biv? Yeah. He's a friend of mine.

The Museum Of Vintage Art Supplies, At I've Been Framed


In the last episode I gave you, the dear reader, a quick look around the legendary I've Been Framed Art Supply Center. This and the next one (or maybe two) I'll take a look at some of the details. 

Today: The Museum. 

In the IBF-that-was, there's a glass-sided cabinet with an off-white metal frame which is labelled "The Museum" (in fairly skillful sign-paniters' hand which careless fingers have now gone a long way toward scraping off (you know we can't ever have nice things in this timeline)). The IBF-Art Supply Center that is still has it, and more besides now. The new service counter has four shelves, long and deep, behind glass and with lights that flicker into being when you approach, and the collection of vintage art supplies is nothing short of gorgeous.

I made these a little larger so when embiggened, some detail can be seen. I hope.

I guarantee you, if you had an art class in any school, primary, secondary, or collegiate level, any time in the USA during the last, oh, I'd say 60 years, you'll see either something you used, or something very similar to something you used.

Art supplies bind us together as a people, truly. 

And, as I said, the OG Museum still stands, and, if my dead reckoning skills are as sharp as I think they are, it's in more or less the same place it was before. 

At Last, A Look Inside I've Been Framed


This post is a looong time in coming; one pandemic wait plus one visit forgetting the camera.

I have never made any secret of my love for I've Been Framed, the Portland treasure of an art supply store that we visit on a semi-regular basis at 4950 SE Foster Road. We first went there in 2002, where I found a complete set of DaVinci gouache colors that I needed for an art course I was taking at PCC.

It's been a very satisfying relationship, which has become more than just a place we drop in on to get art supplies. We've taken to them and we fancy they've taken to us; they put up with our quirks as customers and we hit that place first when we're looking for something. They have been very good to us and we feel like they're more than a business we stop at but they're kind of our friends.

20 years a patron will do that for you, if you manage it right. 

The business was started by a fellow named Bob Brisack in 1955, powered by his love of wheeling and dealing art supplies. In about 2001 we went in there and I bought my first purchase, a proportional divider for drafting, which I still have. In 2003, the place was sold to his son, Mark. Mark was cool and a very welcoming person who was always very encouraging. Mark also saw the store through the tough beginning of the pandemic.

This last year, Mark retired in his turn, and the store was bought by Prairie Clark, who was running the store under Mark for a long time (at least as I understand it), and she's seeing the store through the pandemic (keeping it open and everyone employed and innovating a way to sell art supplies despite not being able to allow people in for browsing) and into its next era.

That era, having arrived, gives us a evolved IBF on Foster. In-store browsing is now fully enabled (to an occupancy level of 10 at a go) and there's been a retro-rebranding. It's all quite exciting.

In the below photo, which is taken from a spot roughly where the framing department was, the changes should be manifest.

There's more room to move about, better airflow, and rearranged departments. The counter that can be seen above describes an L-shape in the floorplan, behind which canvases and paper can be requested - you can't go back into the paper aisles any more but they'll get you whatever you want from them - and the collection of vintage art supplies, once limited to the glass cabinet marked as THE MUSEUM, has been greatly expanded.

Along the front windows there can be seen, from the right, the water color aisle, then the brushes, then the acrylic colors. Screenprinting inks are just out of frame on the left, and the oil colors have moved into the space once occupied by the childrens' art supplies.

Turning about, the store looks like this now:

There's modelling supplies immediately to our right; out of sight and to the right of the colored Canson paper rack there is the graphite drawing stock, which is actually more or less where it was before the floorplan revision. The generous space allowing for some social distancing is obvious here and the design of that is quite impressive.

The biggest change, outside of the new counter spanning the middle of the store, is the absence of the custom framing department. IBF still offers framing, by appointment, and the framing crew, I understand, has now fully relocated to the other IBF location, 2819 SE Ash St over in Laurelhurst.

This brings me to the real delightful detail of all this. I regard Prairie as a marketing genius for this, but she's done a bit of a throwback for branding this location.

I overheard Rosie, one of the retailers, answer the phone I've Been Framed, Art Supply Center. It clicked with me then. When Bob Brisack opened IBF its original name was simply that: Art Supply Center. IBF has two branches at present, and the functions have been sorted out between them so that now the Foster Road location has just art supplies. Why not reach back and reclaim some of that history? What a clever and delightful idea, in my blunt opinion.

So, welcome on I've Been Framed's Art Supply Center, which is an art store as Portland as it gets.

I have a few more pictures to share and will, in a subsequent post anon (but not too far anon). In the mean time, go get you some art supplies.

I just told you where to do it.

27 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 25: 2 Yaquina Bay 2 Bridge


This is from the other side of the highway, on the street that leads down to the Newport bayfront.

I told you I was stupid in love with this bridge. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 24: The Yaquina Bay Bridge


Bayside cities are defined by their bridges. Newport hit the lottery jackpot here.

Carrying US 101 over the mouth of Yaquina Bay, the bridge could be iconic of the general design of almost all notable coastal bridges: the arches, the combination of Art Deco and Art Moderne design motifs, the simple efficiency and the understated yet remarkable beauty. All these were the design gifts of the vision of Conde McCulloch, who came to Oregon in the early part of the 20th Century.

This bridge was built across the mouth of Yaquina Bay in 1936, and I am stupid in love with it.

Connecting the bluff of the town area of Newport with the flats of South Beach, it has only two lanes, which undoubtedly gets kind of awkward during rush hours in Newport; the highway north of the bridge is four lanes of arterial boulevard. 

I imagine they'll eventually, sooner rather than later, have to replace this bridge. That'll be kind of a sad thing, because it's beautiful in its geometric perfection. 

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 23: Meeting Claire Hall


This was a unique high-point on the trip.

Some of you, I hope, may have heard of Claire Hall. She's a county commissioner down in Lincoln County and someone I rather admire. A few years back she wrote a delightful, uniquely-Oregonesque political fantasy called McCallandia, which is an alternative history of of the post-Watergate years. The point of departure was when Gerald Ford was elevated to the vice-presidency; what if, instead of Ford, lawmakers chose our legendary governor, Tom McCall? The story told was full-on Oregon, her read of McCall's personality was flawless, and the writing impressively accomplished. Not only did Ken Kesey make an appearance, but so did James Cloutier's cartoon character Hugh Wetshoe (via illustration). The work was made tour de force by a chapter perfectly pastiching a Rolling Stone article where Hunter S. Thompson went out to the McCall ranch to do some fishing and shooting.

McCallandia is required reading for any of you who want to know why McCall is such a beloved memory here in Oregon. It ought to have taken the state by storm, truly, and I'll go to my grave telling people to get a copy. McCall's legacy not only informs Oregon's environmental laws and legacy it also influenced Claire's career; just like McCall, she followed a career as a reporter into a greater legacy as an elected official doing the very best she can for all she works for.

How could I not admire someone who was inspired by Tom McCall and who made that love of their community real by serving?

A few days previous I messaged her to see if she wouldn't mind saying 'hi' in person and I was delighted to see her say yes; so it was, this day, in Newport, at the Fred Meyer, we met in person over coffee.

I must say I had a fine time getting to know her, as much as the occasion allowed, in person. You people in Lincoln County, you're lucky to have her during these times of great dexterity and Covid and things of that nature. She's smart and bright and kind and I'm just thrilled that anyone who writes that well can be a friend of mine. 

Thanks, Claire. You're one-of-a-kind. 

26 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary): Part 22: 3,365 Miles To Boston


The longest road in America has one end in Oregon, in Newport. It goes by many local names across the width of the State: SW 4th Avenue in Ontario, NE Greenwood Avenue in Bend, Main Street in Sweet Home and Lebanon, SE Santiam Blvd in Albany, SW Philomath Blvd in Corvallis, and Main Street again in Philomath. 

When it enters Newport, it becomes East Olive Street before it ends at Hwy 101. If you're in the mind to wander down a long road, though, there's a sign there that invites you to try:

In the interests of symmetry, there's a similar sign at the other end of the road: Kenmore Square, Boston, near Fenway Park, has a sign that will tell you it's 3,365 miles to Newport, Oregon.

We're fair that way in America.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 21: Yaquina Head and the Surf


The thing about driving 101 down the central Oregon Coast ... Lincoln City to Yachats ... is that so much of the beach is visible from the road. It seems less so in other areas;

The stretch of 101 in Tillamook County, for example, after you get past Neahkanie Mountain, Tillamook Bay, and Tillamook dances about inland a few miles. You're still down on the coast, but you feel as though you're inland. Not that it's a bad trip, mind. But there's not really any ocean to look at from the car. Once you pass Neskowin and get south of the Hwy 18 tie-in, bop around in the hills just north of Lincoln City then once you're in L.C. you can see the ocean from nearly the entire road. 

You can glimpse some of the coastal mist near 101 and 18; that's the floodplain of the Salmon River, opening up to the sea. 

Then, after this, there are great stretches of 101 that are within sight and sound of the sea. And once you get along Beverly Beach, just north of the Newport city limits, you get some of the best angles.

That promontory ahead is a point called Yaquina Head and it's basically the north end of the city of Newport, one of my favorite places on earth. They have a cute little neighborhood there and tidepools (not this time, but again) and theres the working lighthouse out there.

And all the breakers. This is another picture I can hear. And so very typical of US 101 in Lincoln County. 

21 September 2021

Wy'east With Freeway Ramps


This is a closer look at Wy'east (Mt Hood) today over the interchange of Killingsworth with I-205, included just because I like it. Not much else to say about that. 

Wy'east With A Light Coat


Just as Luuit was dusted with the white stuff over the last weekend, so was mighty Wy'east (Mt Hood), as my 122nd and NE Shaver St/Rossi Farms POV will show.

I know things can't last forever, but I adore Rossi Farms just for being there and providing this sensational window to the east, and I hope they're gonna be there for many a year more. 

And Wy'east looks good with a even just a little snow on 'im, especially after our extra-torrid summer.

Luuit With Mild Icing


The rain that swanned through the district last weekend put a very welcome whitecap on some local volcanoes I may have mentioned in the past. And will continue to mention in the future.

The storm dumped about two and a half inches of rain on the valley, here, but dusted just around the top of the crater of Luuit (Mt. St. Helens), here, taken from a spot along NE Killingsworth east of NE 82nd Ave.

Harvest Moon 2021


We make a big deal of the various moons that we get latterly. Thanks to the modern media's unrelenting drive to create interesting content, we know as much about what moons during various times of the year are called as farmers once did.

I should grow something maybe? I don't know.

Anyway, here's this years 'harvest' moon, which, they tell us, is the last full moon before the Autumnal equinox, as seen from the parking lot of Cruiser's Cafe on SE 136th and Division, because burgers, man:

This was taken with the PowerShot SX230HS on the highest level of zoom. There are many millions of pictures out on social media, but this one's mine, and it's better because I made it all artistic and stuff. Those branches in silhouette were no accident, unless they were, ain't sayin'. 

19 September 2021

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 20: A Glimpse of Downtown Depoe Bay


The city center of Depoe Bay is a delightful place, really; a few blocks of charming tchotchke shops, souvenir shops with an artistic bent, and placed to get food and candy

There's been changes, of course. The most notable is the aquarium that used t be there. In the middle of that block of storefronts is one with two gabled details, and for many years it was an aquarium. It was faced in rock stucco, all the passages inside were faced in the same, and it had windows to small aquaria that let you look salt water fauna both common and a few uncommon, but the big draw were the resident pinnipeds at the back. They were loud and smelt like you think they would, and they'd sell us little bags of cut-up fish and we'd all throw it to them.

The other thing I remember the most about it is the salt-water taffy we'd always get specifically there. Naturally, we stopped by Ainslee's, which has been killing it the taffy department since before I was alive. We're going through it piece-by-piece now; it's just as nifty as I remember.

Ainslee's have a taffy-pulling and -wrapping machine in the front window but they were done with the day's manufacture by the time we stopped by. But it's still there, which is a plus.

Just a bit of historical fact to drop here: Depoe Bay was named for an indigenous resident who our history remembers as one Charley Depoe. He was a Siletz indian (part of the Tututni tribe from southwest Oregon) who was given land allotments under the Dawes Act of 1887, and some of that allotment got sold and became the land that became Depoe Bay. Cutler City, the neighborhood at the south end of Lincoln City, also sprang from one of Depoe's allotments.

Sur La Mer (our 31st Anniversary) Part 19: The World's Smallest Harbor, More Boats, And A Buoy


Depoe Bay is a little, fun place between Lincoln City and Newport.

(Look, friends, you can only say 'small Coastal town' so many times before you realize that that's hardly a unique thing. Anyway).

It is promoted that Depoe Bay is the 'world's smallest navigable harbor'. Again, as with the 'D' River in Lincoln City, there is no universally recognized authority that has the say. There may (or may not) be working harbors that are just a s'kosh smaller, there's no clear way of telling even in this internet-besotted age (and, to be sure, being connected to that vast mass of info seems to faithfully confirm little-to-nothing any more). But when one looks at it, it is pretty small and it is a busy place to be.

That's the whole of it, right there from my vantage point on the north end of the US 101 bridge over the cove's mouth. A lot of commercial fishing and charter trips come out of here, and the reputation of Depoe Bay as the place to watch the gray whale migration on the Oregon Coast doubtless boosts its economic throw-weight all the more.

The sign boasts similarly to the sign at he 'D' River crossing up in L.C.

I snapped da pix while the Brown Eyed Girl looked for souvenirs and salt-water taffy and there's a very friendly energy in Depoe Bay.

There's also a blockhouse on the north end of that bridge ..

Small, old type over the entry proclaim DEPOE BAY PARK, and the banner in the far right hand window there proclaim WHALE WATCHING CENTER, but the small sign in the entry way states closed-due-to-Covid. 

There's a pandemic on, you know.

But we've got enough of our heads on straight, and our masks on those heads, that we can go out and enjoy. 

And, just as off Boiler Bay, there were boats. Oh, buoy.

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.