48hrs @ Ocean Park

September 14, 2007

A little while ago my sister April (picture below) invited me on a last-minute weekend vacation to my parent’s beach house in Ocean Park, WA. We both have somewhat stressful jobs and we needed a break.


(she wishes that was her bus)

April had also invited my little brother Richard and her friend “Chips” aka Zeinab. Zeinab is an exchange student we know from Senegal. The Friday we left landed on the same day as Richard’s first football game. Fortuitously his game ended up being half way to the beach house. Richard took the bus to the game and we got there just in time to catch the last quarter. Here’s a pic from my camera phone…

After the game we hit the road. An hour later we were parking at the beach house. This map gives you a decent idea of the distances…

After unpacking we ran down to the beach to find ourselves on an empty beach. In the distance we could see one bon-fire. After a strolling for a minute we decided to build our own fire. This trip I constructed a nice blaze eight logs high using the Log Cabin technique. We had a total on two bundles of firewood stacked. It never fell over, but it wasn’t easy. We couldn’t find an Axe and I left my trusty hatchet at home. So… I grabbed the only hammer and got busy, leaving Richard to strip the wood off the logs by hand. He’s younger, it’s good training.

We relaxed by the fire and watched a meteor shower without saying anything. I think we were all just really tired. I know I was, and I enjoyed the silence. Eventually April and Zeinab fell asleep, so we headed back to the beach house.

We woke up the next morning to find ourselves famished. My sister had recently heard about the “ultimate breakfast café” on the peninsula, so we decided to hunt it down.

…April was driving, and we got lost. We were aimlessly wondering the peninsula until I spotted a gray hair and told my sister to pull over. I simply asked, “Hey, do you know where that new café is? You know, the new one that’s supposed to be ‘so-amazing'” Sure enough, he knew right where it was and piped back exact directions. …The gray hairs there know everything.

Within 5-minutes we had found the restaurant. I took a seat at an aging picnic table under a large maple tree while I waited for my dish. There I was entertained by a variety of friendly caterpillars…

My breakfast was an egg sandwich made up of two thick slices of homemade bread, spread with top-shelf butter and sprinkled with a hint of spices. I bet the eggs were gathered that morning, they tasted very fresh.

After the meal we decided to visit Long Beach (the largest city on the peninsula). Along the way we stopped at a garage sale and I scored some toys for my puppy. I think he likes them…

…I just love the facial expression on that elephant (we named him Babar). The puppy is teething, and as you can see he prefers ears.

So, after the garage sale we continued towards Long Beach. Eventually we found parking and headed towards the scooter rental shack where we procured two scooters (Richard and Zeinab don’t have a license yet).

A few minutes later we were the roads of Long Beach!!! Covering half the town only took a few minutes, so we decided to head out towards the Cranberry bogs.

Long Beach produces 20% of the cranberries on the West Coast. It was a fun ripping along the bogs, occasionally sampling the berries (suck on them, don’t bite them).

The scooters 20mph max sort-of felt like a standstill, but as you can see from the videos we still managed to have a good time…

We dropped off the scooters off right next to the go-kart track. The tack in Long Beach is as ghetto as they come. No helmets, no rules, just crappy go-karts on a track lined with rubber tires. …We all hurt ourselves there, but it was fun.

Here’s an aerial shot of the course and action right before we started racing. I had planned on taking a shot while I was racing, but I was so busy spanking Richard and Zeinab that I forgot to.

Talking smack was probably half the fun of racing. I ensured Richard and Zeinab that I would be completely unbiast when blogging about the race….But I never said I wouldn’t lie. Take it or leave it, this is my version of what happened.

The last stop on the trip was the huge frying pan. April and Zeinab couldn’t resist the photo op…

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The Poop Monster

September 6, 2007

A few weeks ago my loving mother and sister brought me home a puppy. I didn’t ask for a dog and I never said I wanted a dog. My reaction was very concise and direct, “Thanks for ruining my life.” I would accept the dog, but I knew better.

Years ago (from 12-15) I had a small dog kennel business, Brien’s Country Kennel. So I knew this puppy would be a lot of work. Watching the dog roll around in the grass I realized his cute mannerisms and soft coat had all the wonder of Homer’s Trojan Horse.

For example, look at the picture below. What do you see? A cute puppy resting? …No, that’s a ravenous canine scraping together what little energy he has left to pee all over the carpet.

 

He seems to be particularly interested in moles and digging, when he’s not pooping or peeing.

Well, I’ll write more about the Poop Monster later. I was trying to take more pictures of him today, but (as you can see) he really doesn’t like staying still. His training is going well, hopefully I’ll have some videos of him doing tricks soon.

Here’s one final visual, it’s the puppy bounding towards me across the lawn…

Beware of Poison Oak

July 27, 2007

This what my dad normally looks like…

This is what he has looked like all week…

Apparently my dad wondered into some Poison Oak dirt biking. About a week after riding (which is common) his whole body broke out with a nasty rash.

Apparently it’s also very itchy, and where the rash wasn’t on his face his skin was a nasty green color. This happened because he’s allergic to Poison Oak, but many people are.

…Maybe this painful picture will help you remember a few things about Poison Oak.

This is what Poison Oak looks like…

This is how it gets you…

  1. You brush up against leaves with bare skin.
  2. The oil soaks into your skin.
  3. If you’re allergic, you breakout.  …I am so glad I’m not.


This is what you should do if you’re exposed…

There isn’t a lot you can do.  If you are exposed you should take a long shower as soon as possible. …And don’t use the hot water (opening pores could be a bad idea).

My sister talked me into going on a last-minute camping excursion this weekend. In spite of the gloomy weather report we decided on this place called Indian Heaven. …Only, since the girls navigated, we didn’t actually end up there. Instead we had to settle for some random place called Panther Creek. Here are some of the shots from our trip…

 

Me, Heidi, April and Gary; All showing our true colors…

Gary and I thinking clever thoughts…

Good thing I remember my Jager…

Fueled by Jager I built this clever tomahawk for protection from the squirrels…

Me, proudly showing off my tomahawk…


				

April was thrilled to be in-frame with the mighty Jager-tomahawk…

This is the tree I cut down with my tomahawk…

Here is a video to prove it…


				

We setup a tent, but ended up sleeping under the stars…

April enjoyed her little Malibu Paradise-Punch…

And was sad when it was gone…

…And here’s a picture of April and Heidi staging the pictures above. …Posers!

The Heidi got mad because Gary said he wouldn’t go along with their story…

Then I convinced April that Heidi was the problem…

Fortunately Heidi convinced April she wanted Oatmeal before it got too bloody…

Reuben’s Visit

June 9, 2007

So the other day my little brother Reuben came back to town to visit over his birthday. Reuben is currently being held in what I describe as a Christian concentration camp near Spokane. …Actually, I only call it that in jest.   Reuben has always had difficulty concentrating, so I joke that this is at least half justified. In reality the facility is a place for guys fighting addictions. Reuben, being my brother, has online addictions he’s been battling with. 

Most the people Reuben lives with are struggling with more stigmatic addictions (like drugs). IMHO it’s good that he has a chance to see how low people can get when they give up on life or get hung-up on a thrill (I think all young people should understand this).

He’s been away for almost six-months now and he’ll be free in another six. If you’ve been following my blog, he is the guy I drove out to Spokane to visit about fix-six weeks ago. 

Anywyz, Reuben turned 18 while he was here, so naturally we had a little party for him…

This is Reuben opening my gift; the electric razor he’d asked for last Christmas. …I’ve been trying to talk him into crème but he won’t listen.

Anywayz, it was sad saying goodbye again but I’m looking forward to his return.  

A few weeks ago I snapped a few pictures during my family’s annual fly-fishing trip. For those who asked, these ‘er them. Sorry about the low quality, my blog provider is cheap.

Traveling up the gorge to Eastern Oregon…

Watching the green fade to brown as we moved east….

From our campsite looking down into the panhandle…

We spotted a cave in one of the hills hear our campsite and decided to take a quick hike up to it…

On our way up, looking back towards Devil’s Pile and our campsite…

My dad and brother Richard trying to keep up…

The cave getting larger as we approached…

The cave from a side profile…

Hmm, maybe something lives in this cave?

The Prineville reservoir from a nearby plateau…

My dad and little brother packing heat on wheels…

Covering the desert floor were all kinds of pretty flowers…

Something that died…

My little brother trying to look hard with a gun…

Setting up the bikes for a quick ride…

Me and my bro playing with guns…

My dad, happy to be riding…

Ape Caves

May 15, 2007

The Ape Caves are the third largest lava tube in the contiguous United States. The cave is located near Ape Canyon on Mount St. Helens, where in 1924 miners were attacked by ape like creatures. That’s how the cave and canyon earned their names. Recently one of the miners, now on his deathbed, confessed it was a hoax. But since no-one else backed him up so I say the jury is still out. The cave’s name and folklore add to the mysterious sensation of being surrounded by darkness and silence, miles under the ground. As a kid I always enjoyed this place and so one fine day I decided to take my little siblings up to the caves to do some exploring. So, these are our pics…

Mount St. Helens…

Swift reservoir (I made some good memories on that island on the left there when I was a kid)…

Nequeshe was happy to get out of the car…

This is the mouth of the Ape Caves….

My brother Richard and Nequeshe in the cave…



Eventually we reached the end of the cave. And there, the floor of the cave under a concave wall, my lantern caught some torn pants (if you watched the video you know what I mean). Then, in the shot below, we ran into a pile of rocks and dirt. Well, did my best to convince my siblings the two were connected.

I know this picture is lousy, but it’s all I have of us crawling. I enhanced it, but it’s still almost unrecognizable…

In the pic below I’m trying my hardest not to smile, my scary story was working…

After crawling for about 50ft the cave opened up and we could rest a bit.

Then it got really tiny again, but we made it past this…

And then it got really, really.  This is as far as we got.  Richard probably could have gone a little further, but we were staying together and playing it safe.  So we call it a day.

Oh, and we shot some videos with my digital camera. They’re really low res, but here they are…

At the end of the cave…


…And crawling back…


The whole cave is about 13,000ft long, and maybe 5-100ft deep. It takes about two hours to walk from one end to the other. It’s always 45 degrees cold in the cave, so for us it was a much appreciated two hour break from a hot spring day.