Saturday, July 29, 2006

Twilight Show Coming Up!



Hey everybody! Pendulum is starting a series of shows at Montgomery Park, with "Twilight" being the first. Food in Bloom has designed a special Twilight cocktail, available at the bar for just for these two performances! (They will have other foody items as well). This is a very special venue with great views from the Atrium!

It should be awesome! Please join us and help support the Performing Arts in Portland!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Knee News is Good News

so far anyway. The doc is pretty sure I didn't screw up anything major in the knee. He gave me a steroid shot (good thing I ain't a pro athlete) and that has really helped. It is still crunchy and it catches me painfully at odd moments, but if all that goes away in a couple weeks, then I am okay. If not, then I get an MRI we start discussing knee surgery.

He must have been bored because he also brought me in for 3 mole removals/biopsies below my other knee on the calf. Apparently you don't want the little devils turning black or growing and I had a few like that.

On a lighter note, Day 4 was our best day of the camping/outdoorsy trip with the most pix so I will try to churn that post out soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Comedy of Circumstances (and errors), Day 3

July 19th - Betty Lake to, well, Betty Lake trailhead the hard way. - 3 miles (5 for Ladybug)



Preface: Look, I am sure you are sick and tired of hearing about mosquitoes, so let me just finish up our "getting bit" experience by saying we received several more over the next day and a half and to let the reader know that it is indeed possible to get nailed right in the sunshine of a hundred degree day. Once again getting ahead of my self, I will also mention that a worker at the Odell Lake Resort said this was the worst year she's seen in 15 years. Okay, back to our story...

So we both put on rain gear, slapped the packs on and we were on the trail at 6am.
The Forest Service sign that said the next trail junction was 1 1/4 miles away was about 3/4 short of the true mark. We were beginning to think we had missed something when we finally came upon it. Since heading to Waldo Lake was off our course, we were at the mercy of the signs at this point. We had a choice between going to South Waldo Shelter 1.5 miles away and a spur road 0.5 miles away. We weighed the relative merits of each idea and decided the road was the best bet since we didn't know for sure whether Waldo Lake had a phone among its amenities. Along the way, several little "pisswater" lakes and swamps reminded us that the you-know-whos were ever present.

I was moving along slowly favoring my right leg and trying not to stop too often. We reached the Forest Service road fairly quickly. As we approached the road, signs of horse and mountain bike use were more evident along the trail. I was hoping that this meant we were getting close. An examination of the trail on the far side of the road showed that North Waldo Lake was 5 1/2 miles away. I knew my leg wouldn't handle that. A sign at the road showed we were at milepost 1. That meant we were one mile away from something. We decided that Ladybug would check out the left direction for a mile and come back with a report. If any cars came by, I would stick my thumb out and see what happened. Ladybug came back before any cars came.

Rain gear and hiking: An internal sauna
After 2 miles of hiking in our special shields (we were almost out of DEET already after many applications), we noticed a strange phenomenon. We were boiling in our own juices. When we reached that road, we ripped off our jackets to find our shirts to be so sweat-soaked that they could be rung out. Later, the same effect rendered Ladybug's pants soaked (I was in shorts and did not suffer as badly). In any case, while rain gear is a good shield for sedentary moments, using it while moving is not worth the extra protection.


It appeared that the road ended in a Forest Service Campground called Sunset Cove which appeared to be a do-it-yourself boat ramp and campsite. No phone there. I think we knew why (buzz-buzz). While we were trying to figure out what to do, a white van came up from the campsite. We flagged them down and told them we were off-map, described my knee problem and that we looking for a place with a phone. They weren't sure whether there was a phone at North Waldo, so we asked for a ride there anyway. They took us as far as the main Waldo Lake road junction (which we crossed earlier on the way to Betty Lake). I got the feeling they were annoyed with us but a ride is a ride and we appreciated it. We decided that we would start walking towards Highway 58 and hoped someone would drive by. My knee had a slightly easier time on the consistent road surface but it was still sore and crunchy.

We passed Milepost 6 (only six miles to freedom! on a bad knee! no way!) and eventually made our way back to the trail junction that was a quarter mile from where we started that morning at Betty Lake. Well, THAT was a waste of time, but at least we learned that the Road was the ticket out and not getting to Waldo Lake itself. I told Ladybug that my knee would not take 5 more miles of hiking, so we decided to try hitchhiking.

I should mention quickly that we both had cell phones, but they were useless the entire time we were hiking being always out of range.

We waited for 15 minutes or so before we heard the first vehicle coming towards us heading southbound to Highway 58. It was an old white Nissan pickup and we stuck our thumb. They stopped and we had our ride on the first try. Hot dog! The two guys who picked us up were headed to Crescent Lake, so we asked if they would drop us off at Odell Lake Lodge on the way. They helped us throw our packs into the back of the truck and we were on the way.

The pickup was an 80s model with a rusty tailgate which was festooned with stickers that ran the spectrum of philosophy and sentiment. The one which gave us reason to believe we wouldn't be killed or robbed was the Oregon Country Fair sticker. Sure enough, one of the guys worked there so Hippy Power and the spirit of more cooperative times were flowing through our veins.

We sat in the back of the pickup as it whizzed towards Highway 58, then towards the lodge. The day had been warming up and it felt good to feel the wind blow over our heads as we headed towards a better destination.

They dropped us off at Odell Lodge and refused any payment. Ladybug secured a room for the night while I figured out how to jump out of a pickup with a bad knee. We made calls to get an earlier ride home from a different place, then we headed upstairs to take a shower. We had lunch in the lodge restaurant and slept most of the afternoon away. Dinner was nice with huge portions I could not make my way through. We enjoyed looking at the red flowers of wild columbines growing in front of the lodge (along with ornamental columbines). The wind was strong off the lake, so we had none of the worries of the day before. I got a bag of ice from the kitchen and spent time icing down my knee periodically until the ice had all melted. We were in bed soon after for a so-so night's sleep. It was also interesting to try to pick out the path up to the Rosary Lakes from our vantage point below. Here is our attempt to find the trail and the sites from a distance...

A Comedy of Circumstances (and errors), Day 2

July 18th - Rosary Lakes to Betty Lake - 7.8 miles (and 600 feet up followed by about 800 feet down)


Image borrowed from Peabod.com


I rummaged through my pack for the maps and trip guide for this section of the trail and...it wasn't there. Anywhere. Oops. I don't think I've ever been on a trip where nobody had a map and I felt pretty stupid for not packing it. The odd part is that I still haven't found that stuff around the house yet. Weird. At any rate, I wasn't too worried because I had major portions of it memorized and the Pacific Crest Trail is very well marked. Combine all that with the American love of roadbuilding and the risk lowers considerably of such a blunder.

We hiked away from the pesky skeeters into...well...even more skeeters. Apparently proximity of ready water is not a prerequisite. Although I only saw one patch of remaining snow above the 6000 foot elevation we traversed, I knew that it was a big snow year and that portions of this trail were impassible to hikers as recently as a month ago. I imagined there were plenty of mosquito spawning grounds. As we climbed to the crest of the saddle that passed the western slopes of Maiden Peak, we were treated to a wonderful view of the valley below along with a large portion of the area we covered last year south of Willamette Pass. The title picture for this entry shows the three Rosary Lakes along with Odell Lake and Crescent Lake in the distance. We were also treated to views of Diamond Peak, Mt. Yoran, and the tippy-top of Mt. Thielsen (mountains not shown in this borrowed pic). This was the physical, emotional, and mental high point of the trip enjoying the view from 6300 feet above sea level.

Coming down the northern side into the next valley, the mosquito situation turned from a moderate irritant into a real problem. The mosquitoes were so aggressive that the DEET was not stopping them. Places where we sweated or failed to reach with DEET were hammered even harder. While we both had about a dozen bites each at Rosary Lakes, we quickly eclipsed the 100+ mark. I was bit twice on the lip, inhaled two of the little devils and spat them out again, and I ended the trip with probably 20 bites on each elbow alone. We were covered.

A new dance was invented by me because I was truly being driven nuts by the mosquitoes on my face. I was slapping and cussing as we zigzagged down the path. I am not sure what happened because I did not step on anything wrong, but the end of one step sent a sharp pain through my knee. After that, audible crunchings and a good deal of pain were evident with each step. After a while the crunches subsided but the knee was sore and it felt like something was definitely wrong. When Ladybug and I stopped for a rest, I told Ladybug that I was inclined to "bag this trip." Ladybug assented and we had to figure out how to end this trip 30 miles short of our destination.

Though I did not have the map, I knew that Waldo Lake was large (and therefore developed) and it was to our north and west. I wrote down a number of trail junctions on my itinerary (which we did bring) and we decided we would take the first one that mentioned Waldo Lake. We still had a couple of miles to walk before the first junction and I found that resting my knee only made it stiffer and more painful, so on we walked. At this point, there were clouds of hundreds mosquitoes surrounding both of us that appeared as buzzing spherical swarms around us whenever we walked into a sunny area. [For reference to those who were there on our Boy Scout trip those many years ago, Sisters Mirror Lake was losing its status as a mosquito-filled trip.]

The only good thing happening at this point was that we were done climbing large hills for the remainder of the trip. The trail sloped gently onward and downward. We finally reached the trail junction for the Eugene to Pacific Crest trail about a 1/2 mile short of our planned turn off to go to Bobby Lake. After confirming our intentions to finish up the trip, we saw a sign that said Waldo Lake Trail was only about 5 miles ahead. We hit the Waldo Lake Road about two miles later. We were about 7.5 miles into the day and my knee was hurting quite badly at this point. A sign showed that Betty Lake was a quarter mile past the road. I rested while Ladybug went to make sure it wasn't a mosquito breeding ground. She returned and reported a good stiff wind with no mosquitoes at the lake, so she walked and I limped the last 1/4 mile to camp. We arrived early (about 1pm), so there was plenty of time to relax, enjoy the breeze, and finally set up camp. I took some wonderful pictures (which I can't show you because of something later in the story) and we had a nice dinner. Ladybug refilled the water bottles, we talked for a while, then went to bed.

When the sun went down, the wind died. When the wind died, the mosquitoes began swarming our mosquito netting. We went to sleep to the high-pitched whine of a phalanx of blood-seeking mosquitoes. Ladybug finally gave up on sleep at about 3am, left the netting, and put on rain gear to thwart the bugs. I was so sore, I could only sleep in fits until sunrise. At one point, my back was so stiff and sore, I couldn't stand laying on my Therm-a-rest in any position, so I curled up face-down on hands and knees to give my back a rest. When it was light enough to see, I got up, applied DEET, and put on rain gear to hold back the hordes. We ate granola bars for breakfast, jammed everything in our packs, and prepared to get the heck out. I should mention at this point that I could barely stand up when I tried to roll out of the mosquito netting. With repeated moving around, I loosened up enough to hike.

Side Note: Going potty in the woods

Unless you can hold it forever, you eventually need to heed the call of nature when backpacking. Nature does not provide a covered shelter with seats for this activity. While men are able to conduct liquid business relatively easily, conducting the expulsion of solid human waste and the liquid waste of females is an entirely different matter. In addition to the trench digging and difficult squatting techniques required for backcountry hygiene, we found another menace that proved even worse. Unless you haven't been paying attention I've written so far, you've probably guessed that it is mosquitoes. I won't really elaborate much more than to say that soft and private areas hurt and itch much worse with mosquito bites than the more exposed parts of the human anatomy...and I think I will just leave it at that because I am becoming traumatized again.

A Comedy of Circumstances (and errors), Day 1

Well, we are back from our July 2006 Pacific Crest Trail hike, but not without paying a price for lack of preparation and just dumb luck (of the bad kind). However, our faith in humanity received a boost and if my knee recovers well, then it will all have been worth it. Dangnabbit if I haven't already gotten ahead of myself so I will start back at the beginning. Most of our pictures are from the last part of the trip but I will try to fill in with stuff from the 'net as I can.


July 17th - Willamette Pass to Rosary Lakes - 3.1 miles (and 600 feet up)


Image borrowed from Peabod.com


My brother (hereafter known as Mr. Nice Guy) consented to drop us off at the launch point at Willamette Pass (elevation is about 5100 feet) after we had lunch at nearby Odell Lake Lodge. There were some mosquitoes around so we applied our DEET (supposedly repels mosquitoes), donned our packs, waved goodbye to Mr. Nice Guy and started up the trail.

At the beginning of the trail, the beargrass was blooming with cream-colored spikes of flowers rising out of a green bunch of grass-like leaves. The forest was predominantly mountain hemlock (similar to fir) and it was nice and shady for the most part. The weather was warm and dry (although much cooler than the lowlands) and it was a beautiful start.

We steadily climbed along a generally straight bearing up the mountainside finally turning near the saddle beyond which the lakes waited . As we made our way to our ending elevation of 5830', the beargrass was eventually replaced by Davidson's Penstemon (left), Cat's ear, and other small flowers in masses on the ground. We sustained a number of mosquito bites and resolved to do a more complete job of protecting ourselves after we finished hiking.

We reached the first of the three Rosary Lakes, South Rosary Lake (right) to find that the mosquitoes were becoming more numerous, but we also found that staying on the windward side of the lake was the best way to keep them from bugging us. Our original plan was to stop here for the night but we wanted to shorten the next day's hike (or so we thought) and therefore pressed on past Middle Rosary Lake and to the land bridge between Middle and North Rosary Lake.

This land bridge looked like a wonderful campsite, so we chose it. There was a brisk wind blowing across the site between the two lakes that mostly eliminated the pesky mosquito problem. We set up camp using our lightweight mosquito-net "tent" and got everything all set for dinner (mostly ramen noodles). We spoke to a gentlemen who was the forester for this area a couple decades ago and he told us a bit about what it was like to work here then. Eventually we turned in for the day, crawled into our sleeping bags (or as a friend of mine calls them, fart sacks) and listened to the wind ruffle our netting. Ladybug heard crickets, but I couldn't so I may need to get my ears checked.

Some time in the evening the wind died down and the night passed under beautiful stars with the crescent moon coming up a few hours before dawn. We woke up to find the mosquitoes back with a vengeance. We rubbed ourselves and our clothes more completely with DEET (we had 100% DEET spray, 30% wipes, and some 25 lotion). I dug a [For reference to those who were there on our Boy Scout trip those many years ago, we were at Sisters Mirror Lake level on the skeeters] headnet out of our pack (why didn't I bring two?) and gave it to Ladybug to keep the persistent insects off her face. After washing the DEET poison off my hands, we made macaroni and cheese for breakfast (oodles of noodles!), filled our water bottles in the lake and treated them with iodine. We added the crappy taste neutralizer to the water, finished packing and started on our way so we could get away from the mosquitoes.

Sidenote on Iodine: Those who grew up and backpacked over the last 30 years probably cringed when I mentioned iodine. Those who used good old Pot Aqua remember the brown water and horrible flavor of their treated water. I don't know who figured it out or when, but it turns out that Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) neutralizes the bad flavor and removes the ugly color from iodine treated water. The water still tastes slightly of Vitamin C, but a citrusy flavor is definitely better than chemical. Way to go, Pot Aqua!


Notes: North Rosary Lake picture borrowed from Peabod.com. Penstemon picture found in Google images.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Right. What's a forest?

Well, Ladybug and I are packed and ready to traipse across a few dozen miles of Pacific Crest Trail again this week. We are starting at Odell Lake again (between the Three Sisters volcanoes and Crater Lake), but we will be heading north instead of south and hopefully we will wind up at Elk Lake at the end (near the Mt. Bachelor ski resort).

Have fun and we will report back when we get home.

Oh, Today's Music Doesn't Suck After All

I've been in a musical funk for quite some time now. The Grunge and post-Grunge music phases leave me bored and depressed (which is often the subject matter of the music itself). Much of the harder rock on the radio sounds uninspired and designed to shock rather than express.

My new coworker is in a progressive metal band and he has pointed me towards some stuff that has lifted me from my gumptionless morass and I am really enjoying some fresh music nowadays. This has been a real lifesaver on those 12+ hour workdays.

In addition to finding someone else who listens to Dream Theater and Symphony X, he also pointed me to some stuff at the Rhapsody music service and a couple of really good internet stations over at Live365: Progulus and Epic Rock.

Progressive metal takes the musicianship of Rush and Metallica and merges it keyboards and subjects that draw heavily from fantasy (esp. Lord of the Rings). There are even some new age aspects that merge some Tangerine Dreamesque dreaminess with rapidfire drums and arpeggiated guitar solos (or some scalar wizardry fast enough to be dubbed "Petruccios" by us at work [named for Mr. Petrucci of Dream Theater who makes Flight of the Bumblebee sound like a dirge with his insanely high speed guitar solos.])

Some of my favorites so far
Circus Maximus
Lana Lane
Karmakanic

Others that have at least a song I liked
Blind Guardian
Nightwish
Edguy
Rhapsody
AxenStar
Forgotten Tales
Dark Moor
Black Majesty
Luca Tirilli
After Forever
Gamma Ray
Dionysus
Ritual
Indukti
Kinections
Pain of Salvation
Satyrian
Koyaanisqatsi
Iced Earth
DevilDriver
Lost Horizon
Dragonforce
Beyond Twilight
Nightingale
Within Temptation
Frost
Cryptic Vision

The list keeps growing. If you like big sound, fantastic themes, and if 15 minutes sounds like an appropriate length for a rock song, then check out the links above and get hooked up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Naughty, naughty Verizon

If you are using Verizon as a phone carrier and have a RAZR phone, read this:

That makes two genetically similar brothers, two identical laptops, two identical cellphones, and one key difference: I'm able to create my own ringtones, and my brother is not. That's because I use Cingular for my cell service, and he uses Verizon.


Read the rest of this at Wired magazine's Listening Post blog for the full scoop.

Still Alive

Hi gang.

My extended blogging hiatus continues but the 60+ hour work weeks should start mellowing out now, so perhaps there will be more posting here.

I am working on a progressive rock/metal post that some should find interesting.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

OCF


Well, we've traveled "there and back again" - the 8th year for Bean & I (a couple less for Snabby). Bean brought a friend, (hereafter known as "Cheese Lord"), who was duly impressed with the impromtu village by the Long Tom River.

We had some good times - I got a limited edition sarong (wasn't even planning on buying it originally, as it seemed like a commercial-scheme rip off...but it was so beautiful I splurged!); and a Peach Tree Lantern from Touch the Earth as well as my usual 2006 Faire Button Pin from the Button Booth.
The Cheese Lord and Bean wandered on their own, got henna-ed, and purchased some ready-made mix to do their own designs. Snabby found some chairs w/backs (old theater seats) that had been refurbished a-lá hippie style in a shady place near the showers. He alternately snoozed, read or just daydreamed for several hours.

Meanwhile, I wandered and met some Leprechauns. Then I filled out some questionaires relating to the Vision Quest at the faire, and checked out some ideas some UO architect students came up with for environmentally sensitive land use of the site during non-fair times. I also stopped by the Community Park area and learned how to make a Lavender Wand and took a moment to write a little intention prayer flag at the gardening booth.

We had some bad times - the swimming pool at the hotel was 1) closed for 24 hrs because some babies pooped in it. 2) Somebody heated it up over 100 degrees, like bathwater. 3)It was filthy, with matted hair piles, leaves, bugs-probably hadn't been cleaned in days.The place seemed unusually dirty all over, and it seemed all the employees now smoke as well as being very slow to react to anything, (especially the maids, it took us over 3 hours to get into our room).

We ate a couple restaurants that were either slow, (over 2 hrs just get served!), had hair in the food, and just didnt taste that great. We finally found a GREAT place, The Glenwood restaurant, right next to the UO Campus. It's been around since the 70's and was clean, nice, awesome food for a great price.

We've determined we're staying at another hotel next year, and we're taking the kids to a swimpark we found on the last day (it has a playgound too!). In any case, overall we had a good time, and we're thinking about a 2 day fair next year (a day for shopping and a day for activities/speakers/music). We might bring some more friends in tow also....No matter what, we always feel sad when we have to leave the Fair

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is Your Brain Abnormal?

Click on the title and take the quick test to find out whether you are a member of the 98% that are "normal" or the 2% who are in the "other" category.

(Hey...this site was sitting dormant for too long!)