Sunday, June 10, 2007

Get Out the Bike, Days 2 & 3

Saturday morning brought more mosquitoes from the bog, but we were learning to live around them. We used a new type of Cutter repellent without DEET. The active ingredient here is Picaridin. It stinks less than DEET and appears to be equally effective, so there we are. When you get a bite every few minutes, that is no big deal. When you have 10 mosquitoes biting you within a minute of exiting a tent, then a repellent seems like a great idea.

I washed my hands afterwards and started on the pancakes. We had some soy-based sausage that is much better than it sounds, but I totally forgot about it sitting in the cooler. After cleanup, the MiniSnab made sandwiches out of the rest of the baguette which we put in a backpack with water, grapes, and granola bars and we set off on the bicycles for the wonders of the park.

Why, here is the baguette chef herself!

My broken pedal was a bit floppy and my foot kept sliding off of it; usually followed by an expletive or two, but we were off to grind out some mileage. Our first stop of the day was at Battery Russell. Battery Russell was shelled by a Japanese submarine Jun 20, 1942 and other than a few incendiary balloons, I believe this was the only attack on the mainland of the United States (not that such a fact would matter much to a Hawaiian or servicemen who lived through Pearl Harbor or its aftermath). They didn't hit anything (nor did we). Battery Russell was a gunnery installation activated in 1904 and decommissioned in 1946. Standing at the gunnery pits, it is impressive to see how large they were. The whole apparatus would be over 40 feet tall with the gun turret pointing over the top of the battery towards the sea. Though I am sure they roared liked thunder in 1942, the whole place was quiet today with barn swallows swooping about and the sweet smell of cut grass in the air.

Soon, we were off again to new bike trails and new locales. We followed the signs to South Jetty. There were lots of signs on the bike path to South Jetty. And why not? South Jetty is a cool place with a large rock emplacement built between the mighty Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Columbia. The Jetty served to divert oceanic power and lots of sand away from the dredged channel of the Columbia river. This allowed ships to enter more safely across the Columbia bar and up the river itself (more safely does not mean safe is still one of the most dangerous entries around and requires a river pilot to guide ships in).

Area B from the top of the dune looking oceanward. (Can you see us waving Moody and Pandabonium?)

The bike path worked its way to the base of the last dune before the shore line and turned to run parallel with it. The sky was bright but not completely sunny as the northern coast seldom is on dry days. The ocean breeze was light, constant, and felt perfect and the trail was flat...perfect riding weather. My large frame was getting tired and winded by the time we hit the end of the bike path at a place called Area A. South Jetty was Area C, so we needed to press on along the access road for vehicles. We continued on for another mile until we reached the turnoff for Area B. At that point, the road narrowed and a stern sign said "NO BICYCLES BEYOND THIS POINT." Hmmm, weird. We followed the turn off into the Area B parking lot and, lo and behold, there is no bike route to South Jetty! We couldn't believe could they make all those signs and then deny riders a legal way to get to the jetty.

Looking northward to the unbikeable jetty from our dune outpost.

We were pretty tired by that point, so we ditched our bikes and climbed a tall dune to eat lunch, enjoy the warmth of the sun and ocean breeze while munching on our lunch goodies. We both lazed and snoozed for a good hour and decided not to chance an illegal trip to the jetty on our bikes. So we headed back the way we came and my total lack of conditioning along with a general fatigue I've had lately combined to make the trip back more grueling than I would have liked. MiniSnab, a spry young rapscallion, had no trouble with the trip home.

Looking north and eastward from the dune across the Columbia River into Washington state. The pilings in the foreground were once holding train tracks that brought the rocks to the jetty to be placed.

I took a long nap in the tent while the MiniSnab wandered around and had fun exploring the campsite and environs. When I woke up, we decided to avoid mosquitoes for dinner, locked up the bikes and headed to Seaside. We played at the video arcade (hint for out-of-shape dads, don't attempt Dance Dance Revolution after riding several miles on a bike), ate dinner, bought some Seaside Shirts, found a campsite mosquito fogger to make the evening campfire bearable, and purchased some S'more fixins to make up for my cinnamon roll debacle. We got back in time to make a campfire and MiniSnab made a couple of S'mores while I sipped some wine and watched the flames. After yapping back and forth for a bit, it was time for bed.

We slept in as much as we could on Sunday. We decided to skip breakfast and go back to Seaside for breakfast and to get home sooner. The morning brought drizzle, so the tents would need to be dried out at home. This allowed us to do a sloppier than normal job of packing them and we split duties until the trunk was loaded, the bike carrier was attached and carried the bikes (now locked to deter any possible hooligans in Seaside), and we were ready to go. We stopped by the recycle/trash station and we are happy to report that we recycled MUCH more than we trashed. This area has a particularly active and engaged recycling service so even our plastics were recycled. Good for them!

We drove out to the south jetty in the car to find that most of it was closed for renovation. Nonetheless, the MiniSnab conquered the rocky summit in the public zone. Giant pieces of equipment were parked behind fences and stockpiles of fresh boulders were waiting to be placed on the jetty. All in all, it looked like quite the civil engineering project. Congrats to Kiewit Pacific for suckling from our tax bosoms on this bid.

MiniSnab summits South Jetty!

Instead of the black basalt that makes up the current jetty (left) , the contractor uses a serpentine-like green stone (right) for renovation, probably trucked from Southern Oregon.

MiniSnab auditioning for a Toyota commercial

We had a nice breakfast/lunch at Riley's in Seaside, did a little more running around, then headed on home to recover from our vacation. MiniSnab and I got some quality time together (a rarity nowadays) and I hope I have kicked started my metabolism. When my bike returns from its pedal replacement and tune up, I am going to see how a 12 mile round trip to work affects the old knee. Until then, ta ta!

PS - You might notice that the Hill Country Gal, Leilouta, and Selba are added to the friends list and, since they are all repeat visitors, these links are LONG overdue.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Battery Russell was shelled by a Japanese submarine Jun 20, 1942 and other than a few incendiary balloons, I believe this was the only attack on the mainland of the United States

I already gave Don Snabulus some corrections and addenda to this info, and he suggested I post them here, so here goes. (clears throat, cracks knuckles)

First of all, was Battery Russell the only place in the mainland U.S. attacked during WWII? Well, not really. The same Japanese sub responsible for the shelling also fired torpedoes into Tillamook harbor (not far away) and released a seaplane that dropped a pair of firebombs on the town of Florence.

I might add that none of these attacks caused any death or significant damage.

Battery Russell did not return fire when it was attacked. Its 12-inch guns were actually WWI-era (yes, you read that right, WWI-era) models and quite outdated. They had a very slow rate of fire and a range of only about 12 miles. The Japanese sub, on the other hand, was shelling from more than 20 miles away. Had Battery Russell opened fire, it only would have succeeded in giving the Japanese a clearer aim.

(The Japanese claim that another sub of the same type had the Golden Gate Bridge in its sights, but its kind-hearted captain couldn't bring himself to destroy it. They like to contrast that with the mass firebombings and nukes the U.S. unleashed on Japan.)

Don Snabulus also mentioned incendiary balloons. These were the infamous "balloon bombs", which were perhaps the biggest success of the U.S. wartime propaganda machine. Japan launched large numbers of balloons loaded with incendiary and fragmentation bombs in hopes that they would ride the prevailing winds to the Pacific Northwest and cause both massive forest fires and widespread panic. As it turned out, though most either fell into the ocean or failed to explode, a substantial number of the bombs (around 300) found their target, some of them reaching as far as South Dakota, but the U.S. government succeeded in keeping the whole thing totally hushed up...until the mid 1970s! Now it's common knowledge, but the government didn't own up to it until I was an adolescent. (I remember it was quite a shock to everyone. Until then, nobody knew there had ever been any kind of Japanese bombing other than at Battery Russell and Florence.)

Ironically, the balloon bombs caused the only deaths from WWII on the U.S. mainland. A priest and his family were picnicking in the Siskiou Mountains (Southern Oregon) in early 1945 when his children found a strange-looking object. The fact of the balloon bombs still hadn't been made public, and they had no idea what it was. The priest told his family to remain where they were, but not to touch the object, and he headed back to his car to go to the nearest ranger station and report it. Before he made it to his car he heard a large explosion. His wife and all five of his children were killed.

It's likely there are still unaccounted for balloon bombs out there. The last one known to have been found turned up in Alaska in 1992, but its payload had long since been rendered harmless.

Another interesting fact about this was that, just as the American people had been kept in the dark about the balloon bombs, the Japanese hadn't known they'd been working. They were only made aware of the landing of a single bomb (in Wyoming, and it caused no damage). Convinced the project had been a total failure, they discontinued the balloon bomb launches after only a few months.

Ironically, one of the launching places for the balloons was near my FIL's hometown. Not long before I got married, my (future at the time) in-laws came with me to visit Oregon. He saw a balloon bomb display at a museum in Newport, and he freaked! Apparently he'd known of (maybe even witnessed) the balloons' launching during his wartime childhood, but he'd grown up believing they'd never worked. It was quite a shock finding that they had.

Thus ends our moody history lesson for the day.

Pandabonium said...

Thank you, Prof. Moody, for a most interesting lesson.

And thanks Snabby for sharing more of your weekend. Beautiful pics. Nice one of me waving from Kashima lighthouse. The ones of Mini Snab are best. That's great you could spend time with her like that.

I used buy Mornistar Farms veggie sausage once in a while. Really liked them.

Hope you and your bike heal and you enjoy pedaling to work.

ladybug said...

I'm glad it didn't rain on you guys, camping the rain is not that much fun in my book!

What's really sad is the last time I was in Seaside (last summer?), our favorite restaurant "Rob's"(opened in the early '70's) had been sold!

And turned into an Italian place by the new owners.

Rob's had the best huge meals for the lowest prices, all the fishermen, and regular folks used to eat there, it was *always* busy!

They had the only Taco Omelet left in Oregon I guess (it seemed to have disappeared from everybody else's menu).

Unfortunately, I've never had a good meal at it's main breakfast rival, the Pig'n'Pancake.


Momo the Wonder Dog said...

The Fort Stevens State Park website that you linked to in the first post has a good map of the area.

That picture of the jetty from the dune has a nice shot of aseagull on the right. I'd like to chase it. Are dogs allowed there?

Don Snabulus said...

Hi Momo,

Dogs are indeed allowed there, but be warned that the gulls are craftier than they look.

Anonymous said...

Biking twelve miles to work???

Did you get a new job, a new office, or did you simply mean you were going to pedal up and down the driveway for an hour?

Swinebread said...

Yeah, but snab can tell you all about the rock formations... something I know nothing about.

Don Snabulus said...


Yeah, I got a coworker about a year ago so the HQ got us a small office space to use.