Northwest United States
A travelogue by Mark Leeper
Copyright 2007 Mark R. Leeper
04/17/07 New Jersey to Eatonville, WA: flight
04/18/07 Eatonville, WA to Castle Rock, WA: Northwest Trek Wildlife Preserve
04/19/07 Castle Rock, WA to The Dalles, OR: Mount St. Helens
04/20/07 The Dalles, OR to Portland OR: Columbia River Interpretive Center
04/21/07 Portland OR: Oregon Historical Society
04/22/07 Portland, OR: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
04/23/07 Portland, OR: Oregon Zoo
04/24/07 Portland, OR to Astoria, OR: Columbia River Maritime Museum
04/25/07 Astoria, OR to Port Angeles, WA: The Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
04/26/07 Poet Angeles, WA to Seattle
04/27/07 Seattle, WA: SF Museum/EMP
04/28/07 Seattle, WA: Woodland Park Zoo
04/29/07 Seattle, WA
04/30/07 Seattle, WA
05/01/07 Seattle, WA: The Museum of Flight
05/02/07 Seattle, WA to New Jersey
04/17/07 New Jersey to Eatonville, WA: flight
So we are going to see Washington and Oregon. Evelyn has been to all fifty states, here last being Hawaii last year. I had been to 48 and this trip will complete my set. Not that that is the reason to go. It is supposed to be a beautiful part of the country. Perhaps it will be a little rainy, but then I am coming from three days of record-breaking rains in New Jersey. I think these were supposed to be the worst rains in something like 30 years in New York City. In nearby Bound Brook, New Jersey some cars were completely covered with water. Our back yard became a small pond. As is my usual habit I through out seed for the birds and squirrels, but I did not expect them to come. However food is food. The squirrels came using their tails like umbrellas because after all rain is only rain, but a good sunflower seed is a delightful tidbit. We should be ready for whatever comes with the rain. We are now used to heavy rains.
Now packing my bags is always a geometric puzzle. We travel with just what we can carry on the plane, but we use a lot. I have to carefully work out hat to put where. This used to be a good plan before security became so strict. Now when I pass through the x-ray the air pump for my sleep apnea immediately that looks suspicious to them. They opened the bag and dug out about a third of the contents. They wiped the CPAP with a damp wipe and put it into their sniff for explosives machine. The machine didn't work and the woman called over her supervisor. The supervisor started to look at the machine and got a phone call on his cell phone. Evelyn, the woman, and I stood around waiting while he took the phone call. Luckily it was only a minute or so. The woman starts shoveling the things she had taken out of my bag in a heap and then started to zip it up if she didn't have a stack of innards sticking three inches out of the zipper. I saw immediately that she was going to be unsuccessful at zipping it up. I knew it. She knew it. She knew that I knew it and I knew she knew I knew it. I said I would repack it and zip it up. It took about the same four minutes it took at home to get things in the right places.
I saw that near my gate they had a degenerate branch of Cereality. They made a fuss when this restaurant first opened in New York. There it was supposed to be a posh restaurant dedicated to serving breakfast cereal. Its poshness apparently did not survive its franchising. They had boxes of cereal and bowls and a cooler with juice and fruit. It did not even have seats or a separate room. It was just installed in a wall and the only thing sticking out was a cash register and a bored looking woman to run it.
When w got to the gate the plane to DC that had the gate before us was still there. The woman at the desk was saying over the loudspeaker "we are going to try something and see if it works." Hmmm. Maybe it will flay and maybe it won't. Actually I was not around to hear what they said was the problem. They might have said it was a toilet that would not flush. But on an airplane you assume the worst.
Eventually what ever they were trying did not work. The flight was cancelled. And for good measure they changed out gate.
When we finally boarded the plane was full and tight. It was all I could do to work my carry-on bag under the seat. There was paper from somebody else's food in the seat pocket and when I pulled down the tray-table there was some sticky red drink dried all over it. I had to get a stewardess to bring me a wet paper towel to clean it off. United is no longer a first class airline. Also every flight on them is packed with people. I had a window seat and Evelyn had the aisle. A woman sat between us in a business suit and wearing enough makeup for a Kresge cosmetic counter. She had been taken in by the urban legend that says it is attractive to paint your eyelids blue, poor thing. She spent mot of the flight reading a catalog of fashionable clothing modeled by women who were younger and more attractive than she was. When she put down the fashion catalog she read some from a booklet that told human resources people how to test and place new employees.
I spent my time on a math problem, trying to prove that cos(pi/7) - cos(2*pi/7) + cos(3*pi/7) = 1/2. It took a while but I got it. It is not hard to prove but you need to know a specific fact about the complex plane. I will put my solution at the end of today's log entry.
We changed planes in Chicago. We sat in a place that when the clouds cleared there was direct sunlight through the windows. It may well be the warmest we will be this trip. Evelyn asked if it wasn't too hot, but I reminded her we had been to Vietnam and Thailand. This was nothing.
I wanted to bring something to eat along the way. I had brought three disks of Baby Bel cheese wrapped in wax. I wanted something that had protein. We did have some Cervalat sausage, but I would not inflict small that on anyone. The cheese was tasty, but it was above room temperature in my pocket and the cheese had turned to a semi-fluid. I half ate it and half slurped it. I had two of the three disks.
On the plane we got friendly with a couple sitting in front of us. They were disagreeing whether there were three or four time zones in the US. I said that with Alaska and Hawaii I thought there were six. We got onto the flooding back home. I said that my house back home had been hit with a lot of rain. The backyard now has 'gators and tsetse flies. It had been a two-story house but was now one story with a basement. In other words I told them a bunch of lies that were more interesting than the truth.
The film on the plane is THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. I had seen it already and had a poor view of the screen so just ignored it.
I had saved a Baby Bel for the plane to have with my beverage but the plane is so cramped that I could not get my hand into my pants pocket. Finally with contortions only a little short of Houdini I worked a hand into my pocket and took out the partially crushed package of cheese. The snack was mini-pretzels in little packs that had inflated like little pillows in the lower cabin pressure. The cheese and pretzels were both salty tasting on the orange juice tasted good.
In the movie the Will Smith character impresses a stockbroker by solving Rubik's Cube. I wish I had known it was that easy. I used to solve it in three or four minutes. That was probably 25 years ago and I probably have forgotten all my tricks.
One of the games I play to pass the time is to look at the ground and try to figure out what details I am seeing. The ground has what look to be ivory colored rectangles or sticks. There are tens of thousands of them. I suppose they could be snow, but they seem to be in too many discrete pieces. I also see lots of perfect circles in the ground but very big. These I suspect are fields and they are circular because the device that waters them pivots around as the radius of the circle.
I spent most of the flight reading off my palmtop.
As we were approaching landing we flew over snow-dusted rough and craggy mountains seen through the clouds. It was a picture in black and white, but it was still impressive.
Well we landed at about 12:20 PM. Terra Firma 49. My 49th state. It looks a lot like Northern California. It may be a little greener and more piney.
We rented from Enterprise. In the West Enterprise is a lot more outgoing and friendly. They are not unfriendly in New Jersey, but they really try to engage you in conversation and find out about you in the West. The driver of the shuttle bus talked to us the whole time and as soon as we got to the office there were other people to pick up where he left off. We got a Chevy Cobalt in bright red. It will take us a while to understand the car and where things are.
We were expecting rainy weather and it looked nice. The shuttle driver said not to trust a clear sky or a weatherman. The weather does what it likes. It has gotten cloudy now and even raining a little.
One thing we see on the road is something I don't remember seeing anywhere else and I am not sure what the point is. There are trucks pulling a trailer, but the connector is the length of a trailer itself. I can see it would make the truck harder to handle, but I don't see the benefit.
We got hungry for lunch on the road and asked Hairball about restaurants in the area. Hairball is our GPS. Where did the name Hairball come from? There is an old film adaptation of HUCKLEBERRY FINN in which Jim has a magical hairball that gives him advice--or at least that is what he says. He tells Huck, "Hairball, he say 'Go with Huck. Go with Huck'." We stole or borrowed the name for the GPS. Our portable DVD player is Argento. My Palmtop at one point was called Thing. Anyway, we were hungry and it said we were right near Pho Saigon, which I knew was a Vietnamese soup restaurant.
Pho is pronounced almost like "fur," particularly if you don't insist on pronouncing the "r." It is a Vietnamese soup, usually flavored with beef bones. Traditionally it is very good bargain being a filling meal for not a lot of money.
I had a seafood soup. Most of these places let you choose how spicy you want it. I like spicy and I would pit the invulnerability of my palate against just about any restaurant. I started ordering it spicy, but then the waitress warned Evelyn that hers might be spicy and she didn't warn me. OK, make mine extra spicy. Well here they are willing to do it. It was very good except for one sip when the soup went down the wrong way. That made it feel like strep throat. But is was fairly pleased with what I got.
It was about an hour's drive to Eatonville. We drove on one of those busy roads where you stop for a lot of traffic lights. Not really like a city, but it was a commercial drive. And we saw mostly the same store chains we see on the east cost. Not just the same restaurant chains but Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Home Depot and Wal-Mart and Target. Yawn.
We also passed some rural-ish houses. One house seemed to raise llamas. And you see horse farms. We got to the motel. This was the one motel reservation we made in advance. Usually on a trip we just plan where we will stay one night at a time. We got a nasty surprise when we checked in. Due to recent storms Mount Rainier Park is closed. There goes one day's activity. We are supposed to be able to see the mountain from where we are staying but it has gotten too cloudy. Well in Japan, despite our best efforts, we never could see Mount Fuji and here it may be the same with Mount Rainier.
Well, that was about 4PM local time. We spent most of evening going to a small local grocery for some travel snacks and later driving back to a Wal-Mart we passed to get a little more and to have something restful to do.
In the town we saw signs up for the "Volcano Evacuation Route." You don't see those at home.
Answer or the math problem above:
The 7th roots of -1 in the complex plane are the vertices of a regular septigon centered at the origin. They all point in different directions equally spaced so their sum is 0. -1 is one of these roots so the other six must total to 1. Their real parts are these seven terms: cos(1*pi/7), cos(3*pi/7), cos(5*pi/7), cos(7*pi/7), cos(9*pi/7), cos(11*pi/7), and cos(13*pi/7). But the last three terms are the same as the first three in disguise. Cos(13*pi/7) is the same as cos(1*pi/7) similarly the last three terms the same as the first three terms, but in reverse order.
The fourth term cos(7*pi/7) is -1. The first three terms are the same as the last three terms and all six must add up to one. So the sum of the first three terms has to be 1/2.
So we know
cos(1*pi/7)+cos(3*pi/7)+cos(5*pi/7) = 1/2.
But cos(5*pi/7) = -cos(2*pi/7)
So sum of the first three terms is 1/2 and they are
cos(1*pi/7), -cos(2*pi/7), and cos(3*pi/7).
04/18/07 Eatonville, WA to Castle Rock, WA: Northwest Trek Wildlife Preserve
The temperature in the room was warm in the night but turned cool as morning came on. Most motel heater/air conditioners give the guest total control over the temperature of the room. They have choice buttons for off, blower only, high heat, low heat, high cool, low cool, and a dial that lets you choose between warmer and colder. That is a lot of power. So what do you do if you want the room to be 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You use all these wonderful controls. And good luck. You have all the tools you need, but the system takes no responsibility for the result.
The people who make these things just do not understand that people want to just set a temperature and be done with it. They make like one of those games where you role a ball bearing around obstacles to get it into the right hole. The controls are in your hands but it takes a great of skill to get some simple result. How many people say they really care whether the thing is on low heat or low cool as long as the room is at the temperature they want?
But my home thermostat is only a little better. This is supposed to be a really good thermostat with the intelligence to follow a program to set the temperature on a certain schedule for weekdays and a different way for weekend. What temperature do you want when? That is terrific. But it still has a switch for you to choose heating or cooling. That is great for the summertime when you probably want cooling. In the wintertime you set it to warming and are done with it. In the spring and autumn the temperatures vary. Some days you have to heat and others you have to cool. A smart thermostat could figure that out and heat when that is needed and cool when that is needed. Nope. The power is in your hands. Good luck.
Breakfast was a small counter at the motel. Not much choice and the bagels were nobody's idea of bagels. But it sufficed and we talked with the manager.
We were up early so we retired to the room to work on logs and in the background put on an episode of Danger Man. We borrowed some multi-episode DVDs from Netflix and brought them and a portable DVD player (the aforementioned Argento) that we can hook up to the TV.
The Northwest Trek Wildlife Preserve is something between a zoo and a nature park. It is placed in a wooded area and is not as dense with animals as a zoo. Some of the animals are given a wide range and you go out to see them on an hour tram ride. This was the first tram of the day in an off season and so we had the guide and a four car-trams all to ourselves.
We saw deer, elk, bison, moose, sheep, and goats. They were free over many acres. They would be in herds by the side of the road or even blocking it.
Their pride was to show us us a bison with a calf about 22 hours old. Human babies spend a lot of their first hours asleep, but it must be different for a bison that spends much of her first hours awake and conscious. The calf was very relieved.
It seems that for most of her life there was a lot of light. She just took it for granted. She saw a bunch of bison milling around, but only one was Mom. Mom was taking care of her. She wondered if I will get to know the other big ones. It was great just seeing all the things in the world.
And then disaster struck, and it all went away. The whole era of light seemed like it was over. For a very long time the world was nothing but darkness. She couldn't see Mom. She just had to lay close to Mom. It was this whole long era of darkness. That was a big fraction of her life and she assumed that was all there would be of light. Too bad she did not see more of the world when she could. You get a little bit of light at the beginning of the world and then it is all used up. This is what life is like, just hugging Mom. What a sad and dull world this must be.
But then after waiting nearly forever eventually the light came back. The whole era of darkness went away. Now light seemed to be here to stay. Maybe it wasn't such a bad world after all. That stretch of dark was probably just a fluke. Maybe everybody gets a little dark to scare them, but then it goes away for good. Or maybe that was all the darkness there ever is. From now on there would be no more darkness. That age had passed and the light was back here to stay. This time she would hold onto it. But what a memory it would make. The light is back and that is nice, but why is there so much wetness?
The tram ride was about 60 minutes. It was quite cold and when the ride was over I back to the car and put on a sweatshirt over my sweater and under my jacket.
After that we went on the nature walks. You would see a large area, much larger than a zoo enclosure, and there would be a pair of wolves or foxes or black bears or grizzlies. The animals were mostly just sleeping to pass the time and would get up to walk around occasionally. Because the animals were given so much more space than a zoo would give them. They also had a 15-minute movie on Northwest wildlife.
We stopped for lunch at Puerto Vallarta, a decent Mexican restaurant. Apparently it is authentic Evelyn thought because the staff talked to each other in Spanish. I had a burrito and chili relleno combination and Evelyn had her favorite Mexican dish, chicken mole.
The ride to Mt. St. Helens was exciting with rain, sleet, hail, and scenic views of Mt. Rainier. We drove in and out of microclimates with some areas having really heavy rain and hail and others being cloudy with patches of blue sky.
We took a motel in Castle Rock. The manager told us that we were taking our chances with the weather. We might be able to see the mountain if there were breaks in the clouds.
In the evening I worked on my log and watched THE MASK OF ZORRO off of a cable station that put in far too many commercials.
04/19/07 Castle Rock, WA to The Dalles, OR: Mount St. Helens
My feeling is Mount St. Helens actually was able to pick up the radio waves from the local radio station. Hearing somehow what kind of music was available on the radio here it vomited.
The continental breakfast at the motel was coffee and the sort of pastries that come wrapped in cellophane, eight to a package at dollar stores. Evelyn had coffee and for little doughnuts. I had a small honeybun. This was not much of a breakfast so we asked the GPS where there was to eat nearby and there was the Toutle Diner. Sounded like a funny name but it was the Toutle Valley that was destroyed by Mount St. Helens as I found out later. I had biscuits and gravy with a side of scrambled eggs. It is not that I love biscuits and gravy but I have very little opportunity to have them.
We got to the visitor center just about the time it opened.
The date was May 18, 1980. Geologists had been expecting an eruption for more than a month when nature let loose with what is probably its greatest fury short of what happens at the center of a tornado. It dropped a side of the mountain into Spirit Lake beneath, then exploded out sideways in a huge blast giving rise to pyroclastic flows, and mud flows. It had a plume 15 miles high. 230 square miles of forest was leveled in 180 seconds. What happened?
Mount St. Helens had been dormant for more than 150 years since it had erupted, hardly enough time to really call it dormant. It now had built a dome for itself.
On March 20 the mountain shook with a 4.1 Richter scale earthquake. The mountain was coming alive again. On March 27 there was eruption of steam and ash. Everyone within a 15-mile radius was advised to leave. Not everybody took the warnings seriously.
On April 3 the mountain had harmonic tremors. The quakes suggested that an eruption might happen soon. In the shaking the two craters on the mountain merged into a single crater. The governor declared a state of emergency.
By April 30 the north flank dome had been increasing in height more than five feet a day. It was now swelled up to 250 feet higher than its original size. The moving foundation and the quakes were breaking up the structure of the north face of Mount St. Helens. On May 17 the mountain began spitting ash and steam again. An eruption could happen in two years or two minutes. The latter was closer to correct.
Sunday, May 18 at 8:32 it all happened, and in an interval of time like three minutes. There was a quake that registered 5.1. That shook the side of the mountain down in the largest avalanche in recorded history. The side of the mountain fell away traveling at 150 miles per hour. Its weight was no longer pushing inward to counter the outward pressure in the mountain. The side of the mountain ruptured spewing a wave of heat, pumice, and smoke in a wave travelling at 300 miles per hour, scouring the ground to the bedrock in a swath 3000 feet wide. People five miles away were hit by the lateral blast from the inner mountain. For eight miles trees were carried away. The ash plume went up 15 miles and the sky was darkened 125 miles away. The glacier formerly on the mountain melted and joined with the dirt and ash to create floods of mud called lahars. Pyroclasric flows--pumice, ash, trapped air--flowed out. The force release eventually was about 27,000 times that of the Hiroshima bomb.
The visitor center had two films. "Fire Mountains of the West" was about the volcanoes of the Cascades. This chain of volcanoes goes near the coast from California up to Washington State. Apparently the Cascade chain is getting more active. Mount St. Helens was only the first and worst of a sequence of volcanic activity in the Cascades.
Evelyn says it is good to live in New Jersey where we are safely far away from volcanic activity. Yes, but where we live in New Jersey we can go whenever someone decides to get in good with Allah by destroying New York City.
The second film, the better of the two was "The Fire Below Us." This was just about Mount St. Helens. Parts were harrowing. A teacher had brought her kindergarten class in and had to remove them either because the descriptions were getting too graphic or because when she was watching the film the kids were turning feral. But one interviewee was talking about choking in the dust and being scorched by the heat. The film was somewhat horrific while it was educational.
This was the Silverlake Visitor Center. And it was more engaging than I expected. There is also the Forest Visitor Center, which was also of interest. Not quite as interesting and it more dealt with the recovery from the eruption.
We had the choice of lunch at the snack bar of the park or go to Burgerville in Kelso. The latter had been recommended by Triple-A. We chose Burgerville. It is trying very hard to look like the 1950s burger and malt shop. I had a burger and a very good chocolate shake. The latter was made with real ice cream. The burger was good to very good. I thought it was a good lunch.
It was a fair drive into Oregon on our way to The Dalles, a town sometimes alphabetized under T and sometimes under D. Triple-A does it once each way. For attractions it is under T and for lodging it is under D.
On the way we crossed the pretentiously named Bridge of the Gods. I now have been in all 50 states.
In The Dalles we picked out the motel to stay at. It was a Comfort Inn. I tend to like Comfort Inns. However they quoted us a price of $104 for the night. I might have gone $90, but that was more than a night was worth. We drove to a more Spartan Motel 6 and got by for $51. That was less than half. When I in places like Eastern Europe or India a room like this would have been really a comfort.
We went to a store that was right next to the Motel 6. I decided to invest some of my savings in erudition. They had a foreign film I thought would be worth seeing. I got myself a film I had seen dubbed, but I was interested to get the essence of the original by seeing it as it was first released. Now I have myself a copy of MOSURA TAI GOJIRA. In the room we watched an old Robert Wise film, THE SET-UP from 1949. It is respected but it is also a boxing film.
04/20/07 The Dalles, OR to Portland OR: Columbia River Interpretive Center
I was up early and being caught up on my log worked on a review for Mira Nair's THE NAMESAKE.
Breakfast was at Denny's. I had pancakes and eggs. Evelyn had the same thing. Usually for some reason she does not want to order the same thing I do. Maybe it is so we can each sample more different things.
Our site for the day is the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center. It covers the history of the valley. The museum is divided into what they call two museums, but they are both history museums of the valley. One is an overview of the valley, its conflicts and its industry. The other focuses on specific topic like the geography and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
I thing further South a museum like this would be mostly Indian artifact. Here they gave only a quick mention to the pre-European inhabitants.
First there was the arrival of the missionaries. The topic of one display was the Indian Shaker Church (I asked Evelyn how bib did they have to make the holes?)
They describe the Cayuse Indian War started with attack by local Indians on a mission. Generally the prospective seems to side against the indigenous population. They argue that the Indians had no concept of land ownership. But they have this quote:
"If any country in the world has ever merited the title of 'Indian country' this is it..."
Maj. Gabriel Rains, Fort Dalles
I should add with some surprise that one sees a lot of billboards in this area with Christian religious messages. You generally see that further south and east. But this does seem to be an area with a religious hard sell and that might account for the positive portrayal of missionaries.
The display covers commerce on the river, especially fishing, canning, and transport (with accounts of the rapids on the river). I was unaware that in the canning process the fish is cooked in the sealed can. I suppose that is a good idea since it kills the organisms and does not allow more to enter. I did get a bit of a chill when I saw that they soldered the cans shut. I wonder how much they knew that lead is a slow-acting poison. Early canned food was poisonous because of the lead content. The cannery workers worked together, but went home to highly segregated communities: Chinese, Indian, and white. There is something on the conflict of the railroad vs. the people.
The other "museum" covers in some detail the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It covers their discoveries. (I liked the description of "animals that bark like little toy dogs." These were called prairie dogs.)
A good deal of the museum was devoted to what life was like travelling the Oregon Trail. This was a migration westward to Oregon and California in wagon trains.
The Oregon Trail went over land from the Missouri River to the Willamette Valley and was a major trail west in the two decades prior to the Civil War. The first wagon train opened the trail in 1842 and within two years there were a thousand people taking the trail each year and the number kept increasing. There was not a single trail, but several across the wide lands. The trail was 2170 miles long. The trail was used up until about 1870 when the railroad provided easier access to the West.
The film on the trail busted some myths about the wagon trains. Usually people did not ride in the wagons. There was not enough room for one thing. Also the ride would have been painful. The wagons had no shock absorbers. You usually walked almost all of the way. A wagon is not a ride, it is a way to really load down a pack animal so that he carries a lot while you walk by his or her side.
The claim was that wagon trains did not usually travel in line. They travel abreast because it is dusty to travel on the trail. But the documentary always showed them traveling in line anyway.
Actually what was of more interest was something that a geologist name J Harlan Bretz described and was laughed at for. He looked at the topography of the Northwest and said it looked for all the world by what would be left by a giant cataclysmic flood of water. The area near the Grand Coulee where massive erosion had cut through basalt deposits and appeared to be the aftermath of tremendous erosion event. Other geologists calculated the size of the flood he would have needed and found it would take some absurd release of water. This would have been of a size that no flood ever did or could ever get. Well, it seems it did happen. It was probably the biggest flood in out planet's history.
It seems during the Ice Age there was a huge ice dam that formed 13,000 years ago, in what is now Missoula, Montana. The glacier formed a huge ice wall and water collected behind it. Why wasn't the water frozen? Well, it was cold enough, but water expands as it freezes. Liquid water takes up less space. When the huge ice sheet got massive enough the water at the bottom was so compressed it could not maintain a solid state. I became more compact and hence a low temperature liquid water. This destroyed the structure of the ice dam. The liquid water flowed out.
It let go in a huge flood, which forged the topography of this area. Huge does not really convey it. The ice dam was half mile high and had formed a lake of ice 1000 feet deep which contained 520 cubic miles of water. The lake let go and drained in about 48 hours making a huge wave of water that moved at 650 mph. It carves the Columbia River Gorge. The force of the flood is estimated to be enough to equal the force of all the rivers in the world combined... and then multiplied by ten. Well, this was on a continent that had no humans at that time. Nobody saw it. But it would have been quite a sight.
We visited the museum store and I made note of some books I wanted to read eventually.
There was also a nice garden outside where you could see wagons and other artifacts of the period of the Oregon Trail.
From there we drove to Portland. I think of Portland as being a fresh, clean place, but it really seems more like a city that has hung around too long and is over-populated. The driving on the roads is slow and much looks run down. Maybe I am not seeing the best places.
We had dinner at a restaurant called Greg's Back Yard. They looked to have a nice $20 rack of BBQ ribs that was more than either of us wanted, but we ordered and asked for an extra plate. They served it like it was two orders at half the price. The plates were arranged with half the food on each.
After dinner we bought an inexpensive DVD and some room snacks. We watched the films SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS and THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS. The first is a well-regarded animated film and the second is a very good drama. SINBAD was a minor disappointment but THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS was very good. I had seen it before, but it was quite worth seeing again. A talented but failing writer is convinced to take a temporary job as a male escort and through it meets one of the great writers of the literary world.
04/21/07 Portland OR: Oregon Historical Society
We went out looking for breakfast, asking Hairball the GPS what was nearby. There seemed to be an IHOP and a McDonalds. Because the GPS shows up only names or restaurants we could not tell which served breakfast. It did list On Rise Bakehouse. This looked like a good choice for breakfast. We had no idea for sure what it was, but it was worth a try. Mei Sum Bakery is the official name on the place on their sign. It turned out to be a storefront Chinese bakery with a few tables. We each got a large steamed pork bun. I got a sweet rice wrapped in leaves and a milk powder bun (or Mexico bun as it is called at dim sum). I also had a mango drink. Evelyn got a rice cake and coffee. They also had things like scrambled egg and ham buns and hot dog buns. The bill came to $6.
Many these dishes are available at Dim Sum restaurants, though at a higher price. It was a fair sized breakfast, a little heavy on starch, but so would have been IHOP. Breakfasts are not included at the motel so we are going to be back, I expect.
Our site for today is the Oregon Historical Society. My first reaction is that $10 each after we had paid parking was a trifle high for a museum. The Columbia River museum was $8, had free parking, and was a more engaging museum. This museum somehow seemed to have a more local view while the Columbia had a more global historical view. It had a great deal about the Oregon Trail and the Lewis and Clark expedition. This one had more local artifacts. It was less about coming to Oregon and more about what happened in Oregon once they got here, which is not nearly so dramatic. One of the exhibits was the hand-written diary of the founder of the Oregon Historical Society. If you don't have a special interest in the OHS, why would that be of interest.
The main floor has items of local interest like the diary. There is some luggage that came on the Oregon Trail, an old x-ray machine (a little scary), a Jantzen knitting machine, various
reminders of a history we never knew
might mean more to a local who remembers the "nationally known" oyster loaf restaurant (funny my mother never mentioned it). And there are several quilts on display. The man at the desk called them beautiful. It is not a form of beauty I am attuned to.
There is a display of campaign materials for Monroe Sweetlan, Democratic Senator. There is a difference between national history that took place in Oregon and local history. This display has a lot of local history.
The upstairs has a history of Oregon that has some things of more general interest. They start with Indians, "the first Oregonians." There is more here on that here than the Columbia River Interpretive Center. The centerpiece is a plank house from confederated tribes of Grand Ronde. It moves on to the explorers with an interesting display and film of maps of the northwest. Following the explorers came people with a scientific interest. These were people interested in the botany and zoology of the region. They were the naturalists. But still they were small in number. The display moves on to the westward expansion with people like John C Fremont pathfinder who mapped the area with a team of topographic engineers, but he explored no unexplored land. He just recorded it what had already been found. The first Europeans to really exploit the area were the fur traders. The mountain men more assimilated to the area than changed it to being there way. One quote says "the mountain men who died happiest were those who finally game up all pretensions of being white men."
Not surprisingly with an uninvited influx there was friction. There was a period of Indian Wars in which the original possessors of the land were pushed off of it and forced onto reservations and from a (largely bison) hunting and (largely salmon) fishing culture into a more convenient farming culture that would keep them out of the way. Many died of starvation in the transition. The Europeans much more quickly exploited the bison and salmon, wiping out most of each.
There are displays of cattle ranches and incredible pictures of salmon catching an canning. It was a veritable holocaust for the salmon.
They have information on nickel and copper mining and logging. There is a section on merchants, groceries and other shops. They finish the historical retrospective with a discussion of the Japanese and their relation to the main population in WWII.
On the way out you pass a lunch counter with a jukeboxes, but rather than songs they have presentations on political issues like racism and assisted suicide.
The lower level has a temporary display of large photographs of the results of the 9/11 attacks. There are small exhibits of Western landscape paintings, and a few paintings of impressionism.
There was another temporary photo display called "After 9/11" It consisted of photos by Nathan Lyons on subject related to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks from around the country. He picks scenes with natural irony like a banner saying "God bless America" hung over a peep show. He like to show how people have worked patriotic themes into their advertising, making grist of a bad situation. But the same thing happened in World War II. Churches also try to use it for their purpose. One puts up the message "Prayer is not a substitute for action. Rather it is the action for which there is no substitute."
The maritime gallery has a display exclusively on the Battleship Oregon. Actually I don't believe it has any more connection to the state than George Washington Carver had to George Washington. Though of course there is local interest in the battleship because it the state's namesake.
We were done with the museum a little too early to finish the day and too late to take on another major site. They supposedly have a good art museum but it was not worth it to pay a full admission for three hours.
Evelyn had wanted to get to Powell's. It unfortunately is located in the heart of Portland, which means that parking would be difficult. They have their own parking garage, but frequently it is full. It was today. Also (literally if you can call a pun literal) putting a damper on things was the heavy rain. When we gave up on Powell's we decided to head back to the motel. On the way back we passed a mall that was entirely Asian shops. It had three restaurants and we decided that later we would come back for dinner.
We did go back to the room to dry off. About 4 PM we went out to the Malaysian restaurant in the shopping center. The food was OK but not great.
We went back to the room for a double feature. I saw Nicholas Ray's 1952 film ON DANGEROUS GROUND. I had never seen it before and it is really a very remarkable film. It has to be one of Bernard Herrmann's earlier film scores. I don't remember hearing anything before that in film though he had done radio and television. But this score is almost a sampler of his musical style. I just had to hear a little of the music to know it was Herrmann, before the credit came up. I think Alfred Hitchcock must have seen this film and fell in love with the chase sequence toward the end. With the Herrmann music and the style of camerawork it cannot fail to remind you of the Rushmore chase in NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
We followed it with the subtitled MOSURA TAI GOJIRA.
04/22/07 Portland, OR: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The day is gray, but not raining, at least in the morning.
For breakfast it was back to the Chinese bakery, Mei Sum Bakery. I had a roast pork bun, an egg bun, a custard bun and a scallion bun. Evelyn had a sweet bean bun and a rice ball. Most of these are fresh bread in a big puffy bun with a topping or a filling. It's great. I got tea and Evelyn had coffee. The bill was the same as yesterday, $6 for the two of us. You can't beat that. Go try.
Our destination today is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry or OMSI. I think this museum was inspired by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. That museum is one of my earliest memories. I remember running around and pushing buttons back when I was two years old. At that time I thought that was great, now I see the same sort of kids make the enjoyment of the museum a little hard.
There are really three exhibit areas. There is an area with polished exhibits, one with rougher and more hands-on exhibits, and what I think is an area with temporary exhibits. This seemed to be currently devoted to wildlife of the Amazon.
I should explain that the polished exhibits are generally fairly controlled. Maybe a computer takes you through a set of controlled questions and answers. I thin the floors were carpeted. The rougher exhibit area is more like exploratoriums. Kids fire off water rockets. They balance or roll balls on rapidly spinning turntables.
They start out with a demonstration of green screening and showing the visitor in front of a computer weather map. The visitor sees only the green screen behind him but on the monitor the screen is replaced by a weather map. This is supposedly Earth Science, but is really just there for fun.
We had gotten to the museum early, but then right after the green screen they had a large section of low-tech puzzles and this engaged us until the museum started getting crowded. I made note of the puzzles I could not solve (either for time and ability). (PS. I solved three, Evelyn solved the fourth after I was doubting it was possible. She's sharp, that one.)
1. You have eight pieces in nine holes. As shown below. You can move Os only to the right and Xs only to the left. Legal move are moving to an adjacent empty space or jumping over an adjacent piece to land in a space two away. The object is to put all the Xs where the Os are and vice versa.
O O O O _ X X X X
2. Replace the Os with one each of the digits 1 to 9 so all the equations are true.
O - O = O
O / O = O
O + O = O
3. Put numbers in replacing the zeroes so the two horizontal rows and the two columns each total to 13.
O O O
O O O
4. X is a filled hole, O is empty. Move two x's so there is an even number of Xs in each row and column.
The floor is filled with science exhibits with a healthy dose of warnings mixed in. For example there are conservation warnings in one corner and warnings against alcohol abuse in another. One of the latter shows alcohol ads and the reasons these ads are bad.
In the weather phenomenon section they have a whirlwind of water vapor you can break up with your hand and then it reforms. They don't say where the circular motion comes from. It seem they just are spraying water vapor under a light.
We went into the fossil lab where they have a long-term (at least 20 years) process over many years clearing and preparing a triceratops skeleton. Someone else there is clearing the fossil of a whale jaw. It is very precise work with a dentist drill. We talked to them for a while including the paleontologist who ran the lab.
One display has embryonic development with actual embryos and fetuses. They asked you not to take pictures, I assume because of the controversy it might stir.
And they have the mineral display. It is sort of an eclectic collection. After this we went down to the exploratorium section.
One of the pieces I particularly liked was an exhibit on programming reasoning. The user saw a Mars rover on a square grid picking up crystals. Each square might have had one crystal or not. The commands you could give it were move forward, turn left, turn right, pick up, or call subroutine. The subroutine had the same set of commands but it could not call another subroutine. There were just enough commands you were allowed so that you had to use the subroutine, but the crystals were laid in groups that the same subroutine would work for both if you saw what was similar in the pattern. For example the crystals could be the corners of a square and your subroutine might be turn right, move, move, move, pick up. The challenge was to find the pattern in the location of the crystals that would allow one subroutine to be used two or more times.
The theme seemed to be important technology in your life. Though they also had a small chamber that shook like an earthquake. They had two different strengths. One thing I discovered for myself. If you try to stand still it is easy to lose your balance. If you keep your feet moving or even dance it is much easier to keep your balance.
They had a section where a computer helped you fold paper airplanes and then you could test them in a wind tunnel. It was interesting.
One thing that was not so impressive was that at 2 PM they were supposed to have a presentation on unusual animals of the Amazon. We thought they would have specimens. We were the only ones who turned up and the only specimens they had were pictures on cards. This was part of the bigger temporary display of wildlife of the Amazon. It brought back memories of our trip to the Amazon.
We left the museum about 3:30 and needed to find a good place for lunch. Hairball told us the nearby restaurants. One called Tennessee Reds was not far away. We thought it might be worth checking out. It was. It is a corner bar and restaurant and on Sunday they have a chicken and ribs special. The sauce was sweet and just a touch piquant. It came with choice of side and a salad. $8.50 is a really good price. We each got the special.
As much as I like ribs, this was really the third day I had them. I am getting stuck in a rut, I suppose.
From there we went to the legendary Powell's. This may be the biggest bookstore in the world. They claim to have a million books. The Strand in New York claims to have 18 miles of books. Neither claim tell you all that much but a million books would have to average 1.14 inches each to make 18 miles. It makes little difference, they are different sorts of stores. The Strand is mostly used. Powell's is mostly new books.
I was interested to see Powell's, but I traveled with only carry-on luggage and I carried enough clothing for a fifteen-day trip--no washing. That means my luggage is packed like a sausage. There is no room for books. Luckily there was not much temptation with new books so expensive these days. I did relent and got myself an origami book and a $6.95 used copy of Bernard DeVoto's THE COURSE OF EMPIRE which I had eyed at the Columbia River Interpretive Center, but it was too thick and cost something near $20. I will have to find a place for it in my luggage. Evelyn got a book called "The Book-lover's Guide to the Internet that mentioned her and her online listing of bookstores.
It is hard to do justice to a huge store like Powell's but at the prices that is not really such a regret.
Getting out of the Powell's parking garage was a bit of a mess because it is very cramped. We headed back to the room from there. In the evening we listened to the commentary of ON DANGEROUS GROUND and then watched the Al Pacino version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. I am not keen on this film just because Pacino seems wrong for Shakespeare. Michael Radford makes a valiant attempt to make it NOT a piece of Shakespearean hate propaganda, but he fails. The simple fact is that Shakespeare was a man of his time and it was a time when bigotry was acceptable. D. W. Griffith was the same, but people have been more anxious to save Shakespeare's reputation. (I have never known why Shylock did not just ask to have his property delivered. If I contract with a butcher for five pounds of steak I am not obligated by law to cut it myself.)
I watched the play and solved two of the puzzles from the museum.
04/23/07 Portland, OR: Oregon Zoo
Our site for the day is the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Maybe I should call it just the EOTOTIC. It sounds a bit like the Columbia River Interpretive Center. Portland does have a gem of an art museum, but history seems more topical than art. There is also a gem of a zoo. But history trumps art and animals.
Breakfast at the bakery. I had a Ham and Egg role, a Taiwan Pineapple bun (that refers to the shape of the bun, it was really raisin bread), and a cream bun. Evelyn had a Raisin Bun and a Green Onion Bun. I had mango drink and Evelyn had coffee. Total bill $5.20.
On the way to the site we listened to an NPR broadcast from Nigeria talking about the election results but they have not said who won in the time we have been driving. We came in in the middle of a heated debate. The name seems to be Yar'Adua.
As you approach there are large archways to look like Conestoga Wagons. We got there and walked to the entrance and then they hit us with it: the site is closed Mondays. Apparently that is a new change since it is not reflected in the Triple-A book.
Quick change of plans: The Oregon Zoo is a gem in the Triple-A book so that is where we'll go. We were considering going to the zoo anyway.
The first thing that struck me odd about the zoo is the number of families with school age children. Today is Monday and I would have expected the kids to be in school. Evelyn asked someone and they said all the children were probably home schooled. Oregon apparently has a lot of home schooling from independent-minded people who think they can teach better than the schools. Perhaps they can. I asked myself if they could while watching the antics of the otter. The sign identified it as an otter but five minutes apart I heard two different parents tell home schooled children it was a beaver. There otter be a law.
I would say that the Oregon Zoo is just about average as big city zoos go. A few animals were apparently having a good time. More were just serving out another day of their sentence of confinement, listlessly waiting or sleeping at the corner of their undersized pens furthest from the visitors. Most of them know that the humans who call to them have no intention of doing anything that would actually interest them. It is the equivalent of ringing their doorbells and then running away. Eventually they learn to ignore these pests or move out of range.
The animals who were having fun seemed to the otter and a polar bear who was playing with plastic drum floating in his pool.
The bats did not seem to have it so bad. It is hard to tell. The bats are in an area where I don't think they can see the visitors, perhaps due to half-silvered mirrors. Visitors could see the bats. I think these were fruit bats and they had beautiful canine faces. Many breeds of bats have very nice faces with delicate features. We have all kinds of negative associations with bats. Many are justified as bats do seem to be breeders of dangerous viruses. Some bats are every bit as beautiful and graceful as the best of horses.
I am getting used to my digital camera and took quite a few pictures and videos.
Several of the species of animals were either away or hiding, but in spite of our efforts we did not see penguins, the orangutan, or the rhino.
They take pride in their elephants and their breeding program. They have a sort of museum of elephant lore with a mastodon skeleton. Still the elephants are big animals and they do not have a lot of room to range. They seemed listless and bored.
There was an enclosure for lorikeets, surreally brightly colored birds. Another enclosure also lets the visitor walk among many sorts of birds.
Other animals, mostly sleeping were a tiger, a wolf, giraffes, goats (in a petting zoo), some very slow-motion hippos, and a house of primates.
The zebra compound had some interesting information. One tends to think that zebras are rather bucolic and horses are more spirited. Actually it is the other way around. You can break a horse and ride it. You cannot do that with a zebra. There is no way to domesticate a zebra.
This may be a short log entry because there is not a lot to say about the expedience of seeing a tiger in a pen at 30 yards.
We left the zoo about 5:45 and were hungry. Our friendly GPS said there was a restaurant nearby called Big Reds. Evelyn had chili and I had a chiliburger (which they call a "chili size" I have never known where that name came from. I would not say the food was great, but it was quite nice.
In the evening we watched a commentary for MOSURA TAI GOJIRA.
04/24/07 Portland, OR to Astoria, OR: Columbia River Maritime Museum
Same place for breakfast. I discovered checking out of the motel that we could have been getting coffee and cellophane wrapped pastries at the office, but the Chinese bakery is so much better. The woman who runs it even remembers the buns we had previous days. We were there when they opened. I had a regular BBQ pork bun, a pineapple custard bun, and an apple pie turnover and a mango drink. Evelyn had a red bean bun and coffee. It came to $4.80.
This morning the rain is back with us. We are driving to Astoria. I look up the lodging and it is expensive. I expect it to be over $100. (PS The Crest Motel was about $75 with tax. It is a luxury hotel with a sofa and coffee table. Also a nice view which is not so great with the gray weather.)
We stop for gas and I get out to pump. The attendant shoos me back into the car. I thought my home state of New Jersey was the only state where you don't pump your own gas. Or Maybe I had heard there was one other. It might be Oregon. But in New Jersey the price of gas seems less than other states, even with the pump service. Oregon it costs more than other states. On the radio they are saying that the price of gasoline was falling right now other states but it is still rising in Oregon. An oil industry executive is interviewed on the radio to explain why. He says it is not just the price of crude that determines the cost. A lot more goes into a gallon of gasoline. The interviewer is satisfied, but I am not. That answers the question without answering the question. What he says applies to every state. Why is the price in Oregon going up while it is going down in other states.
It was about an 80-minute drive to Astoria and the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Astoria is near the bar of the Columbia River.
Now one of the great museums of the world is the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. After going to that museum we went tried other maritime museums and they seem to lack what I shall call for lack of a better name, military history. A maritime museum that is all about how coal or fish was floated down a river is not so interesting. This museum seems to be mostly about men against the ocean and the river.
But this is a place of an interesting history nonetheless. We had heard how wild the Colorado River was at the time of Lewis and Clark. Somehow it looked fairly placid whenever we saw it. That is because the dams have controlled it. In the present day it has been called a computer-controlled river. But the dams can only control the rush along the length. It cannot for long control the volume of water flowing into the Pacific Ocean. The last wild place in the river is the bar of silt and sand and rocks where 1237 mile of river hits ocean. Actually it slams into the ocean. This makes for very dangerous navigation.
Since 1792 about 200 ships have sunk crossing the bar. Many more are caught in the raging waters. There are only 17 men who know how to bring a big boat past the bar. If you want to bring a large boat across the bar, you hire a bar pilot, one of the 17 who know how. Smaller boats have to go it without bar pilots and the coast guard has a steady job of rescuing hapless boats that unexpectedly get caught in the water's greatest furies. They give the statistic that the volume of water coming down the Columbia is 35,000 bathtubs a second.
A quote from Commander Wilkes, USN 1860, begins the tour:
"Mere description can give but little idea of the terrors of the bar of Columbia; all who have seen it have spoken of the wilderness of the ocean, and the incessant roar of the waters, representing it as one of the most fearful sights that can possibly meet the eye of the sailor."
The Peter Iredale is the most famous wreck. Perhaps the reason is that you can still see the remains of the 1906 wreck.
Incidentally a river pilot, of whom there are a few more, specializes in the Columbia River, but not the bar. He knows the twists and shallow spots of the river itself north of the bar.
A freighter from, say, China will need to hire a bar pilot who will come aboard and pilot their freighter through the bar and then leave, being replaced by a river pilot. The river pilot will take the freighter to a safe port. The most dangerous time for the pilots is transferring to and from ships in the thrashing, choppy seas. This involves going down a rope ladder and jumping the last six feet or so timing when the destination boat is at its highest.
Interesting fact: all coast guard boats have a numerical designation, the first two digits of tell the length of the boat. So CG-36474 is a 36-foot boat. I suppose if the boat is over 100 feet it has a longer designation. I doubt the coast guard has a boat that long.
Also why is water depth measured in fathoms? You find the depth by dropping a weight on a rope then pulling it back. You grab the rope with one hand on a fully extended arm and pull up the rope handing it off to your other arm, which you then fully extend and repeat. One handoff allows you to pull about six feet of rope. A fathom is six feet. If it takes 30 pulls of the rope to get it back on the ship the depth is 30 fathoms.
We lucked out in that a church group had brought about 30 elderly people on a bus at about the time we arrived and they were getting a tour. The museum guide invited us to join them and I think it was a much better museum with a guide. The museum really covers the history of sea travel in general and on the 0Columbia river in specific. There are many ship models, pieces of sea technology for getting the job done and navigating, paintings, etc.
The dangerous area of the bar is between the natural jetties on either side and their location is not fixed.
Most oarlocks are circular and the oars go through the hole. Rowboats that are on less predictable waters use just two pins (like belaying pins) so that id the boat come near another boat the oars can be pulled in more quickly. Also the pins are made soft enough that they break easily rather than letting the oar break if they do get too close.
These days you can navigate a boat by knowing where commercial radio stations antennae are located and triangulating position.
Lighthouses identify themselves to ships not just by the light, but by the timing and color of the beam. The rotating head has room for four lenses but it may have just a clear lens and a red lens next to each other. This lighthouse will flash white, then red, then skip two beats.
The lenses are Fresnel lenses. This makes them lighter than real lenses. Most lenses we are used to are domes of glass. But what is doing the real work of the focussing is the curve of the edge. You can remove a cylinder of glass--shaped like a drum--that is really doing little for the focusing. You then have what looks like a smaller lens inset in the outside edge of the lens. Do this repeatedly and the lens looks like a set of concentric circles of glass. It still has the focussing power but the lens is much flatter and uses much less glass.
There are five breeds of salmon and you remember them by the fingers of your hand (assuming you have to remember the five breeds of salmon).
Index finger (in eye): Sockeye
Longest finger: King or Chinook
Ring finger (with silver ring): Silver or Cohoe
Salmon nets are called gill nets because the salmon stick their heads through and then they cannot pull them back out because of their gills.
There also is a fair amount about tugs, tow, and tractor boats and what each does. The information on coastguard rescues out at the bar is really the most engaging information. That has some real action and adventure.
There was a Golden Hind model. They listed this as the first English ship to circumnavigate the world. I this it was the first ship to circumnavigate the world with its captain intact.
One thing I had wondered about was the capstan. This is looks like a two-foot thimble with holes in the side for handles. Sailors push it in around in a circle like donkeys driving a millstone. What is it for? Well, it is a general-purpose human-powered engine. If you need to bring up an anchor or a net of fish you can just wrap your ropes around the capstan. Then muscle power turns the capstan.
Around back you can visit an actual lightship, really a floating lighthouse.
After the museum we drove back to the Crest Motel, one we had passed on the way into and it seemed to be the most reasonable place to stay. It turned out to be more reasonable than we were led to believe by the Triple-A tourbook. And it turned out the room was quite nice. Certainly it was cheaper and at the same time fancier than what we had in Portland. We asked for a recommendation for a seafood restaurant and were told that Andrew & Steve's was more than 90 years old, but that the prices were quite reasonable.
The meal started with a nice tossed salad and some very good clam chowder. So far it seemed good. My main course was a seafood casserole. I thought it was OK, but not great. The scallops were not real scallops but cut pieces of fish. Evelyn's fish and chips was not very good. The coating was not at all authentic to English fish and chips. The fish had been coated in fried bread. Very unimpressive. Certainly it was way overpriced.
After lunch we walked around the town and found tourist shops like expensive art galleries. They did have a couple of bookstores we visited. After that we drove out to see the wreck of the Peter Iredale, the most famous local wreck from 1906.
At the room we saw an episode of Danger Man and the commentary for SINBAD.
04/25/07 Astoria, OR to Port Angeles, WA: The Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
Breakfast was muffins and orange juice from the front office. That would not have made much of a breakfast so we had some Asian noodles in the room. We had been carrying them a few days and it was good to be rid of them.
On our way in to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park we talked to one of the park rangers. I noted that one of the points nearby was called Cape Disappointment. I said it might be near Fort It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. Apparently the story of the name is this. In 1788 it was known that there was a big river inland and it came out to the sea someplace. English Captain and explorer John Meares wanted to find it. He sailed north up the coast. He saw the sand and silt bar formed by the very outlet he was seeking and thought it was beach. He landed basically just a handful of miles north of his sought outlet and named it Cape Disappointment. Four years later American Captain Gray had found the river and crossed the bar and proved Cape Disappointment was just a few miles from what Meares sought.
This park commemorates the second wintering, December 1805 to March 1806 of the Lewis and Clark expedition at Fort Clatsop. The expedition itself was from May 14, 1804 to Sept 23, 1806. They had wintered the year before at Fort Mandan in North Dakota. They probably had hoped to do so again having made it to the Pacific and back.
They had expected to find a narrow band of mountains, not unlike the Appalachians. They had found their mountains and climbed to the Lemhi Pass hoping to see the Pacific. What they saw was the Rocky Mountains. Mountains as far as their eye could see. And as far as the eye could see was the beginning of their mountain trek. The Lemhi Pass was in what we now call Idaho. They had a long trek ahead of them to get to the ocean. Lemhi was one of the great dramatic moments of the expedition. Another came shortly thereafter. They could not go on without horses. They wanted to trade with the local Shushones. They did not want to trade. Sacajawea would do the bargaining. She was born Shushone, but at age 11 she was kidnapped by a hostile tribe, the Hidatsa, and had ended up marrying a white trader who had joined the expedition. As she bartered with the chief of the Shushones she suddenly stopped short. She knew the chief. He was her brother. After a warm reunion the explorers got their horses. It should be noted that white males Lewis and Clark apparently gave much of the credit for the success of the expedition to Sacajawea. This was how the expedition came to spend the second winter on the Pacific.
The park features a new recreation of Fort Clatsop since the old one burned down in 2005. The second winter of the expedition was a miserable one. The rain relented for only a handful of days the entire winter. The group bartered daily with the Chinook Indians who were somewhat puzzled by these strangers who built these buildings on their land. But they enjoyed coming and bartering. There was some friction. One of the explorers killed an elk in the forest, but it was too big to carry and left it expecting to return to it. When he returned the elk was gone. Representatives of the expedition went to the tribe to complain, but by then the elk was eaten. Instead the Indians paid for it with dogs. The Indians found it strange that the expedition would trade for dogs to eat but would not eat Seaman, the Newfoundland (dog) they had brought on the expedition. Undoubtedly some time over the winter Seaman turned cannibal.
The local Indians were very impressed with York. York was Meriwether Lewis's slave. To them black men were special because they were the color of bison. While Lewis lionized Sacajawea, York was not even listed as a member of the expedition and was not freed until many years after the expedition. Freedom did not prosper York who could not make much of life on his own.
The center has two films about expedition, one that describes the expedition and one that describes the Clatsop
My enjoyment was marred by loss of all my pictures in my digital camera. Suddenly the camera wanted to reformat the memory chip. I don't know if the pictures can be salvaged. I doubt it.
It is further to Port Angeles than we were thinking. It is better than a four-hour drive. I think that is going to take up most of the day.
We stopped about 1:15 in Aberdeen for lunch. They have two Mexican restaurants. El Maya Restaurant is something of a dive with a hand-lettered sign. Mazatlan is a chin in a mall. No contest. We went to El Maya. As I write this I am waiting to be serves eating chips in a salsa that is burning my mouth. We made the right choice, I am sure. I had a Carne Asada with rice, beans, and a tiny salad.
It was a long drive into Port Angeles and the Portside Inn. Now to look at my camera.
I tried the chip again in my camera. It still needs to reformat the disk. One last forlorn hope. I will try it again. When I first had the chip the camera claimed it would not work, then it just did. No discernable reason. I tried it one more time. Magic. It worked. What a relief. I guess I have to trust the chip to work for the rest of the trip.
Odds and ends at night.
04/26/07 Poet Angeles, WA to Seattle
Usually we try to return the car with a full tank of gas. That is because the rental company usually charges more for gas than we would pay on the street. This time they assure us they will be charging us less so we are trying to pace ourselves so that we will return the car with a nearly empty tank. I put in only eight gallons. One of the rare times I have been pumping but not actually filled the tank. Trying to fill the tank at the end involves much less strategy.
Breakfast at the motel is oatmeal a cellophane wrapped Spunkmeyer muffin, hot chocolate, and orange juice. A lot of motels in the West have the flip over waffle makers, but not this far north, apparently. I don't think anybody chooses a motel because it has a waffle maker, but it still makes a nice touch.
We were thinking that it would be an hours drive to Olympic National Park. It turns out there is an entrance right near Port Angeles. So we were out early and to the visitors center at about 7:40. Well this visitors center is only for Hurricane Ridge. The road to Hurricane Ridge is open in April only Friday to Sunday. This being Thursday there is nothing to see at this end of the Park so we are headed out for the Hoh Rainforest. That is an hour away.
Many years ago in Scandinavia I first noticed the "blurry tree" effect, an optical illusion. Evelyn and I have noted it, but I don't know anyone else who has. Certain kinds of evergreen tree, I am not sure which, have a repeating branch system at regular intervals. When you see a bunch on the hillside it is hard to tell if the pattern is repeating or due to your eyes blurring. The whole hillside looks blurry, even though it is not.
This would be a lovely drive if it were not raining. We pass hills with cloudy forests and smooth lakes ringed with tree-covered hills.
A truck throws up a stone that hits our windshield. I don't thin there was damage. I wonder who is liable. On a trip in December we were in another Enterprise-rented car when we were rear-ended by a teenager in an SUV. As soon as we saw her she had a cell phone in her hand and I suspect it did not just get there. We were there with the police talking for an hour while our party was waiting to have dinner. But it was clear it was not our fault. We had a little extra folderol when we returned the car to the very friendly Enterprise people. I don't think they ever even called us at home. In spite of the fact their car was in our possession that was an irrelevancy and they did not want to inconvenience us.
Enterprise is one of my "good guy" businesses. Costco is a good guy business. Target is. Wal-Mart is a mixed bag. Radio Shack is a mixed bag and falling. Google is a good guy, but falling a little. Microsoft is a Bad Guy. Toyota is a good guy.
They had Lee Iococa interviewed on the radio in the event of Toyota becoming the world's largest selling car. He said that the American industry waited to long to make fuel-efficient cars because fuel prices were low and there was no market. He said in the early eighties Toyota made a bad car but they came over here and learned how to make good cars from us. I got my first Toyota about 1973 or 1974 and it was a great car. Iococa is a victim of his own propaganda. I tell anyone who will listen that I did not know how to take care of a car and did all sorts of stupid things like letting the oil go to zero or letting the battery water go to zero. I cannot account for how fault tolerant the car was, but I know it was. It is like a two-year old with a St. Bernard. The kid can do a lot of bad things to that dog out of ignorance. He can stick his fist in the dog's eye and pull on the dog's tail. The dog is strong enough to not even mind. That was the 70s Toyotas. And right up to the current Toyotas, though I treat the car better now. My father said not to go on our Southeast trip, a five-week trip, on a cars that had more than 150,000 miles and was more than seven years old. The car used a bit more oil than usual. That was not too serious. The only other serious problem was it collected bugs on the windshield.
As we approach the Hoh Rain Forest we go down a narrow road under a canopy of trees leaning on either side of the road to protect the traveler from rain and sun. Well, actually they just want the rain and sun for themselves.
Aaargh! The park is closed. No explanation. It may be the rain or that the business is slow on a weekday. OK, today is another travel day. On to Seattle.
As we drive we eat some prepared squid that we got a Chinese grocery in Portland. It has the consistency and some of the flavor of beef jerky, but it tastes a little more fishy, not unpleasantly though. Americans eat popcorn in movies, in East Asia I am told people eat prepared squid. I would say it is very good, but I know by experience other people's mileage may vary. On our China trip we be the first to try the dishes we were served. People would ask what was in it and was it good. After a while they realized we always said it was good. To us it was. We liked 98 percent of what we were served.
So now it is 11:30 AM, where we were four hours ago and we just saw some scenery in the rain.
We got to the ferry across Puget Sound about 12:45 and immediately were on the 12:50 ferry. I have not been on a ferry for a long time. The last one was from Estonia to Finland and a week or so later a ferry on that run sank. We got off about 1:15 in Edmonds.
We got to the motel, the Aurora Seaside. We dropped off our stuff and went to the Fushan Chinese Seafood Restaurant.
We were at loose ends so looked in the Tourbook. I picked the Pike Place Market, a sort of farmers market. Parking at Pike Place is a trip. Street parking is expensive and lots are even more so. We found a cheaper place behind the market. It had a sign hat said we should pay up front. It is all controlled by a machine. We parked across the lot from the machine and went over to it. You press a button to start it and enter your space number. We need to know the space number? OK back across the lot to find the space number. Back to the machine to complete the transaction. Then they gave you a slip to put on your dashboard. What we saved we probably spent in shoe leather.
Pike Place is crowded and a little touristy. It has a bunch of standing shops and stalls. One long stretch is just flower sellers. There are a bunch of colorful stalls of vegetables. There are four or five different colors of peppers. There are fish stands. But the flower stands and the vegetable stands have the moist vivid colors. I went crazy with my camera. I am still getting used to the fact I can go crazy with the camera. I have about 1500 shots I can take. A woman was sitting on the brass statue of a pig. I thought it made a good shot. Unfortunately just as I was taking the picture she saw me and got up so I could get the pig all by itself. She apologized and I apologized for taking her picture without permission. We talked for a few minutes. She is in Seattle from Minnesota. We walked around talking to the merchants.
Somehow the GPS was doing some weird things when we were looking for a gas station and then heading back to the motel. At 7:30 we meet a friend of Evelyn. Stu Schiffman is a fan of alternate history science fiction as Evelyn is. They both are judges on the Sideways Award for Alternate History Science Fiction. While we waited for 7:30 we worked on our logs and in the background listened to the commentary on THE SET UP.
We had dinner, talked about science fiction, conventions, and various other issues. We did not leave until after 11:15, returned to the room and went quickly to bed.
04/27/07 Seattle, WA: SF Museum/EMP
I woke up early and listened to NPR for an hour. I systematically make sure that my palmtop and Walkman are in easy reach when I go to sleep. Finding the local NPR stations is a problem when we travel, but luckily they are in the lowest string of frequencies making the search a relatively narrow one. But their news is better than what I can find on television. CNN has really gone downhill. They will spend 15 minutes on Alec Baldwin's feuds with Kim Bassinger. Biased news is becoming more a problem. NPR has a strong left bias, Fox News has a conservative bias. (I think I just made myself enemies on both sides.)
Breakfast is coffee (or in my case hot chocolate) and muffins from the office taken back to the room. Blah.
Well today we see Seattle's Science Fiction Museum. It does not open until 10 so we watch some of a documentary on History Channel about America and alcohol. History Channel is probably our favorite channel when we travel.
As we walk into the museum I try my camera and again the memory chip is failing. Well the museum does not allow photography anyway. I do hope I don't lose my pictures.
Paul Allen was a cofounder with Bill Gates of Microsoft. He left in 1983, but retained a seat on the Board of Directors. This made him one of the richest men in the world. He was rich enough that he could found museums in his two interests: rock music and science fiction. The two museums are there side by side with a single admission for both.
The Science Fiction Museum is for me a fascinating place. Most museums you look at maybe 10 percent. You don't read all the tags and you pick and choose what items you want to give attention to and which you don't. Of course Evelyn and I have been interested in science fiction a long time and we pored over this museum's exhibits a good long time. It is not a big museum by any means and we spent about four hours on it on the first pass. Looked for a little while at the other museum and then came back and spent another hour. Evelyn is covering the museum in detail. She took pages of notes. I will just cover it lightly.
I have to say this is one of the best-behaved museums we have seen. Everybody in the museum seemed very interested in the subject matter and read carefully. The kids who were most likely to tie of the displays too long were us. But when Evelyn and I were growing up the school discouraged science fiction. At least mine did. This was a museum that was a tribute to science fiction and the imagination. I thought that was pretty nifty.
As you enter the museum you see a large representation of Gort, the robot from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. (If you did not already know who Gort was, you probably will not appreciate the description of the museum.) They also have a display of the Ralph McQuarrie concept art for STAR WARS which was originally made public at the 1976 World Science Fiction Convention MidAmericon. I am sure we have copies at home and these were apparently prints also.
They begin the museum tour itself talking about the what-if theme. If that is intended as a definition of science fiction as being an exploration of the question what if, that probably covers all fiction and even nonfiction like contracts and evacuation route maps. Admittedly they don't claim this is a definition.
Near the door is a painting that is a tribute to the effects created by Ray Harryhausen. Now Harryhausen has not really mainstream in science fiction. He was the great master of film special effects from the early 50s to the STAR WARS era. His is a very revered name in science fiction and fantasy circles.
One wall is taken up with a timeline of science fiction with the following periods:
1926-1937 The Pulps
This was the time when most of science fiction was in cheap, rough-papered magazines with names like Thrilling Wonder Stories.
1938-1946 A Golden Age
This was a lousy time for the world, but there were a lot of people escaping the world for a while into science fiction. Many of the later great names in science fiction were getting a foothold in the genre.
1947-1951 Masters of the Universe
Public awareness of science fiction increases. WWII was the first war that math and science played a major role. Most of the math was still secret at this point, but the war had ended with a spectacular piece of science.
1952-1960 soft science--soft sciences biology, psychology
This was a shift on focus. Not just spaceships but ESP, and different life forms. Explorations of what could be alien.
1961-1976 The New Wave
No only was the subject matter changing but the literary style of the stories. Frequently the stories were so literary it was thought to understand what was being said.
1977-1984 SF Goes Global
Britain had science fiction for a while, but boosted by films it becomes recognizable worldwide.
1985-1991 The Cyber Revolution
Stories were more associated with how humans were being transformed by the computer.
1992-present Ad Astra Again
I am not sure you can characterize your own time. In any case I don't remember what they said were the characteristics of the present. I suppose there is more SF set in space.
If you continue around the room you next get to the wall with honorees of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. These are major writers. There are computer displays that tell you about each and have longer descriptions of the most recent inductees.
The chosen honorees are:
Brian W. Aldiss
Edgar Rice Burroughs
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Samuel R. Delany
Philip K. Dick
Gordon R. Dickson
Frank Kelly Freas
Robert A. Heinlein
Ursula K. Le Guin
Eric Frank Russell
Mary W. Shelley
E. E. Smith
A. E. van Vogt
H. G. Wells
Donald Allen Wollheim
There is a large hanging globe in center of the room with clips of classic science fiction films. The globe itself is just a reflective surface and the images are projected onto the sphere anamorphically. 0They have the projection mathematically perfect. You forget that the image is projected and just see the images as appearing on the surface of the globe.
The museum at least twice makes note of a book called SWASTIKA NIGHT by Murray Constantine (really Katharine Burdekin). But much of the upstairs is just a walk-through picture book. As you walk around there are many artifacts of science fiction, with Star Trek and Star Wars getting no more and no less emphasis than the rest of science fiction. I was very interested in a poster for THE ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, which I consider the best science fiction film so far this decade. The poster shows Kate Winslet's face as if it is on paper with the strip over the eyes ripped away. Under that are three more layers of paper rigged away. Finally at the lowest level the paper is not ripped, but it has the writing "Would you erase me?" That is a fairly good poster for the movie. I am surprised I never saw it. They have an entire Neil Stephenson novel written longhand on display.
Toward the end of this floor is a display called "Mars in the Imagination". They show various odd ideas about Mars going back to Percival Lowell's claim that there were canals on Mars. Of course there is some of War of the Worlds and other film material.
Go down a level and there are displays of helmets, ray guns, and space ships from the visual media. We spend a long time looking an animated spacescape showing many of the great spaceships of the visual media. Further case displays show science fiction that included themes like teleportation, size change, and time travel.
They display another quote: "No matter how the world makes out in the next few centuries, a large class of readers at least will not be too surprised at anything. They will have been through it all before in fiction form."
-- L Sprague DeCamp
There is a display on various well-known science fiction planets. The next subject is distopia. There is a poster of Big Brother with eyes that follow the viewer around the room. The effect is created by having the eyes concave hemispheres with the irises at the back. The problem with this approach is that they eyes really do not look like they are looking at the viewer unless the viewer is standing right in front. If you stand two feet to Big Brother's left, the eyes look like they are looking four feet to Big Brother's left. And so forth. But they have some displays of Distopia science fiction and the methods they use for controlling the masses. They have another big animated display showing three cityscapes of the future: one from THE MATRIX, on from BLADERUNNER and one from "The Jetsons."
There was a display on the Orson Welles broadcast of "Invasion from Mars" (often wrongly identified as "War of the Worlds," though it is based on the novel of the same title). A mother was there with her teenage daughter and was telling her "It was a radio broadcast and people just believed it." The daughter laughed and just said, "that's funny." Well it was well before my time, but it still made me feel old that she had never heard of it.
They had an art gallery with magazine cover art depicting aliens. Presumably that will rotate.
Over all the museum was a very good time for Evelyn and me and very time consuming. That was a good thing because the other half of the museum, the EMP or the Experience Music Project just was not our cup of tea. There is very little music that I don't like some of, but the museum is dedicated to music that Evelyn and I have minimal interest in. We went to one part that showed how Disney used music in his films. That was the only display in the whole half a museum that was of any real interest to us. The music was really inspired by Paul Allen's love of Jimi Hendrix, a taste we do not share. The halls were all like the one we visited, a history of the guitar and the attempts to make it louder. I always said that if I were hiring a band for an event I would tell them they were allowed to play the music just as loud as they could, but they were allowed no electricity. That would eliminate the so-called music that is really electrical distortion.
On the first floor there was a film on how Disney used music in film and on the second floor there was a hall dedicated to the same subject. It seemed to me that Disney had voices on the music track before Ennio Morricone supposedly invented it, but it could be that it was just songs like "Drip, Drip, Drip Little April Shower."
I have to say for a museum dedicated to music, the Disney displays were there only ones in which there was some decent melody.
The museum is dedicated to jazz, hip-hop, blues, country, and rock. All OK, but not nearly as engaging to me as classical, opera, Cajun, Chinese classical, Japanese classical, and electronic, each of which I prefer. On the way out there are computers in which you can hear discussions by musicians and there is one with science fiction writers. Fredric Pohl talked on the first world science fiction convention in 1939. James Cameron suggested that science fiction was not good at predicting what will happen, but it illuminates truth. That one we listened to in some detail before returning to spend our last hour back in the science fiction half of the museum.
I gave Evelyn a trivia question. Name somebody whose name is used in both museums. The science fiction interviews do not count. The name is Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote TARZAN OF THE APES, made into a musical by Disney Studios and who also wrote pulp science fiction.
On the way out I noted the quote "When I die I'm leaving my body to science fiction." --Stephen Wright
After the museums we put in the GPS the address of my friend Lax and his wife Aparna. We stopped for some flowers and got to his home a little before the planned 7PM. We saw his new house, had dinner, and watched about half of an Indian film called SUPERMAN. It is a film about a superhero except that he got his powers from Hanuman after his parents are murdered. At about 11PM we stopped the film unfinished and went to bed.
04/28/07 Seattle, WA: Woodland Park Zoo
I was up a bit early. I listened to NPR. We had breakfast, talked about film, and headed out for the Woodland Park Zoo.
We had seen the Oregon Zoo earlier this trip. This is the better and larger of the two zoos. Again as with the Oregon there is not a lot to say. A smaller proportion of pens were no-shows.
Back to Lax's house after we were done and we saw another 45 minutes or so of SUPERMAN, but were unable to finish it before dinner.
We had dinner at the Kabab Palace and met Lax and Aparna's friends Bob and Kelly. They seemed nice people and liked many of the same sort of films we liked. The six of us returned to Lax's place and we saw the last 15 minutes of SUPERMAN followed by THE PROMISE, which I thought was quite good.
04/29/07 Seattle, WA
Just a quick account of today. It was spent visiting with Lax and Aparna. In the afternoon we went to see the film LAWRENCE OF ARABIA at the Seattle Cinerama Theater. We were under the impression that the film had been newly restored, but in fact it was the old restoration and the film print was showing some signs of degradation.
Most of the day was talk. In the Evening we watched the film TWO FAMILY HOUSE (a favorite of mine though Lax was cool toward it) and SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Lax had not seen this film. Visually it is quite impressive in an art deco 1930s style, but Lax was quite accurate when he said it was soulless. It has one-dimensional characters. Lax wanted me to see SAW, but I will rent it from Netflix when I get home.
04/30/07 Seattle, WA
Today we mostly are visiting with Lax and recharging.
In the morning he showed us an Indian film that did very well in its own country. INKAAR (THE WAIT) is about a man who has become wealthy in the business of manufacturing shoes. During a party at his mansion he receives a message from someone claiming to have kidnapped his son for ransom. He is very close to his son and is much relieved when the boy turns up knowing nothing of the kidnapping. It turns out it was the boy's best friend, the son of a family servant, who was mistakenly kidnapped. The shoe magnate is very close to the servant and his son, but the question is how much is he really willing to sacrifice to buy back the life of someone who is only the son of a servant. The film borrows very heavily from HIGH AND LOW, a film by Akira Kurosawa. If there was high drama in the film it really did not transcend the language barrier. The main character's ambivalence in sacrificing for a servant could have been played up better than it was. Sadly it was not an important facet of the script. There was a lot of action and a long chase at the climax. It was a decent film but not an exceptional dramatic or action film. Interestingly the police use some rather brutal interrogation techniques and the audience, who knows the man is guilty, are expected to just accept it. It is just part of police work. One odd aspect is the structuring. The kidnap plot is tied up a good 30 minutes before the end of the film and the film becomes the story of the manhunt.
Around lunchtime we went to Wendy's for sandwiches and visited the local library while Lax returned DVDs and borrowed more. All the libraries in the Seattle area seem to cooperate in a big DVD exchange pooling their DVD collections and allowing any film to be borrowed for a week at no charge. This is an incredible resource and I am quite envious. Ours are $1 for three days with just the resources of the one library. There are a lot of very nice cultural advantages in the Seattle area and I suspect they are funded by taxes on Microsoft or by Microsoft more directly. It is a good area to live.
We returned to the house and watched a film we had brought to see at some point on the trip. The film was Otto Preminger's ADVISE AND CONSENT. This is a dated but intelligent film about the workings of the US Senate. A dying US President nominates a man (Henry Fonda) for the position of Secretary of State and a reactionary Southern Senator (Charles Laughton) opposes and tries to sink the nomination. The modern film it is most similar to is THE CONTENDER, a film I am particularly fond of.
I asked Lax and Aparna to choose a local restaurant they liked and we would take them there as a thank you for the hospitality. They chose McCormick's and Schmick's. This is an upscale seafood restaurant in Bellvue. It was a very nice dinner. I had a shellfish stew. Evelyn had salmon.
After dinner we returned to the house. We saw a home video of Aparna dancing in a style called "Bharatnatyam." I think she is very good. Well, the truth is I would not know good from bad. I do know that when I saw her dance at a Hindu Temple and Cultural Center people were all excited that the famous Aparna was going to be there. I could not interpret the dance but she obviously is very graceful. I did see that she was also the featured dancer at a presentation at the Merchant Ivory Foundation.
After that we watched a very good Indian film, BLACK. That took us to midnight.
05/01/07 Seattle, WA: The Museum of Flight
We got up early and said goodbye to Aparna. She works in the local school system with autistic and other ways challenged children ages 5 to 9. She said that she had a headache. Later it seemed to be some kind of flu. She had to return home to rest, so we got another chance to say good-bye. Lax was going in to work a little late to see us off. Our site for the day was The Museum of Flight. As they say on their web page, "The Museum of Flight exists to acquire, preserve and exhibit historically significant air and space artifacts that provide a foundation for scholarly research and lifelong learning programs inspiring an interest in and understanding of science, technology and the humanities." The museum supposedly has little to do with the Boeing Corporation, which is located very near the museum. However it has a recreation of the William Boeing Red Barn, which in the early days was Boeing's factory. There are a lot of Boeing planes on display.
The museum has two wings (appropriately enough). One wing is has the Great Gallery, which is a big room with a lot of planes on display. Then there is the Personal Courage Wing. This part is essentially a history museum of WWI and flying on the upper floor and WWII and flying on the lower floor.
We arrived just as an hour tour of the museum started. The tour really covers only the Great Gallery and some of what is around it. It is sort of a history of the airplane with examples in front of you. You see some of Da Vinci's ideas for possible flying machines. They have a replica of a Wright flier. They planes progress chronologically through two world wars and the postwar years. One thing the guide mentioned came as something of a surprise, considering how lionized the Wright Brothers are. Apparently nobody flew American-designed planes in World War I. American planes had not progressed very much since the Wright Brothers owned all the patents and hamstrung the competition.
Following that we went to the airpark, a lot near the museum with four planes including a Concord and an Air Force One, both of which you could walk through, though much of it was behind plexi-glass protectors.
When we came back we looked at some lobby displays until 2PM when they had a film on the experiences of the Flying Tigers in China. I had heard of them, of course, but did not realize that they were not really military. They were civilian volunteers who volunteered to fight after the Japanese bombing of China. They were commanded in a civilian sort of way by Col. Claire Chennault and ran sorties over Burma and China. At a time before and shortly after Pearl Harbor when the Japanese seemed unstoppable they were about the only hope the Chinese and frequently the Americans saw. They were there to protect the Burma Road and did their training in Burma. Their planes were Curtis P40s. The film told the story of the AVGs. That is members of the American Volunteer Group.
They had seen pictures of Australian planes for which the Australians had painted animal mouths on the noses. One of the men got the idea to do the same and asked permission of Chennault to do the same as a sort of squadron insignia. Chennault said no, it should be the entire group's insignia. Hence the trademark. The Chinese saw the fierce looking decorations and dubbed the planes in Chinese, Flying Tigers. That became their name. From the beginning their air battles had massive kill ratios with typically Japanese planes to one American.
Eventually the Japanese chased the Chinese out of Burma, but the Flying Tigers continued flying raids, stopping the Japanese advance on Kunming. Once the US entered the war the military moved in to replace the Flying Tigers. To their mind they have been a maverick group of civilians outside Army control. The Army did not cooperate at all with the Flying Tigers. It gave them no support in getting home and even threatened that the AVGs would be drafted as privates when they returned home. Some of the AVGs volunteered to remain behind for a two-week period extra to help transition the Army Air Corps personnel. They had never seen the enemy. "They didn't know how to fight. They didn't know the lay of the land. They didn't know where the different things; even in the ground crew didn't know where stuff was." Supposedly these people who tried the be the most helpful were treated the worst by the Army.
The best part of the museum was the two floors of the Personal Courage Wing. The top floor was about the story of World War I and the bottom floor was the same for World War II.
The top floor starts from a time when the Army did not see much use for air power. "Aviation is good sport; but for the army it is useless," said Ferdinand Foch. In fact the museum concludes much the same about aircraft in WWI. It really was not able to make much difference. You see the actual aircraft on the floor, but the displays that told the history of the war were where we spent most of the time. There was a computer simulation of what it was like to fly a biplane. There was one other couple in the hall and they spent very much their whole time on the simulation monopolizing it. Eventually they got off for a few minutes so I was able to try it. I was not very good, but then I did not have their time on the machine. Much of the exhibit was models and full-sized aircraft. They had recorded readings of writings on the war on displays controlled by push buttons. They showed what some of the uniforms looked like and had a display that showed clips from WWI movies including DAWN PATROL, WINGS, HELL'S ANGELS, and THE BLUE MAX.
The lower level had a similar display of WWII. I watched some of a documentary of the Battle of Britain. I would have liked to see more, but time was starting to run out, so I decided I would try to come back to it. Near the film they had a Messerschmidt and a Spitfires. Instead of having the readings on buttons they had displays with controls that looked like radios. You turned them to a particular "frequency" (multiples of 100) to get one of a set of listed recordings. They also had some entertainment mixed in. I went mostly for the recordings of report from people like Edward R. Murrow. There were side displays about Nazi persecution. Finally got to coverage of the end of the war first in Germany and then in Japan.
I wanted to be sure to cover everything on the floor so made mental notes of exhibits I wanted to go back to. We finished the first pass about three minutes before the museum closed, but at least we got that far.
We had a little trouble finding a motel that was not too expensive. The cheapest one in the Triple-A book turned out to have higher prices than the book said. We settled on an EconoLodge that was rundown but at least clean.
Dinner was at a restaurant right next the motel. Salaama is a Somalian restaurant. It was our first. The proprietor at the EconoLodge said the dishes were big and we could share one, so we did that. We decided to share a Chicken Saqaar and chose mufo bread. I am not sure what mufo bread is like but I have heard of it, which is more than I can say of "saqaar." I don't know what we got but it was not chicken but what I presume was goat. We got plenty to eat and the bill for two came to $10. I liked the food, but don't go by that. I like just about anything I get in restaurants.
At the room we saw THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE and finished what we could of our road snacks.
05/02/07 Seattle, WA to New Jersey
Breakfast was not very good but it came with the inexpensive room. I had a bowl of raisin bran and two little rolls intended to be mini-bagels. A minor problem finding the Enterprise Office is the GPS had a wrong, possibly old, address.
The most stressful part of the trip is proving I am not a terrorist. The CPAP makes me suspicious. They had to take it out and run the bag through the x-ray a second time. They do recognize a CPAP, even though there are many different models. But the real problem with security (other than the pain of the queues and having to take off shoes, etc.) is that we do not check luggage so travel only with carry-ons. That means the bags are packed as tight as sausages. It is a major mathematical problem to get all the objects to fit. When they take out the CPAP soft objects change shape. It becomes a whole new math puzzle, one that has to be solved very quickly.
At the gate a 40-ish businessman is having a long string of conversations on a cell phone. And his voice carries. For business calls the conversation is surprisingly salty. ("I don't need the f***ing printer.") Standards seem to have changed for work conversation since my day. So says the old-timer.
When we dropped off the car there was a young couple dropping off their rental ahead of us. were on the shuttle bus. They were in the same train car in the inter-terminal shuttle. At the moment they are sitting at our gate. I guess it is not all that unlikely a coincidence.
We boarded about on time. I boarded before Evelyn. They board the window seats before the middle seats before the aisle seats. As I left Evelyn to board I told her if she doesn't see me again, find out why.
I had been hoping to get some pictures of snow-capped mountains from above, but all there is to see is solid cloud cover.
Sitting next to me is what looks like a college-aged kid in a baseball cap. He has a big lizard tattooed on his arm. His head is lolling around and he is snoring. He has brought a bottle of Sprite. Sprite always struck me as one of the most lackluster of sodas. Suddenly it is really big. They have put a lot of money into rock music concerts and kids think it is cool. People are so easily manipulated.
The movie is MUSIC AND LYRICS. I think it is on our Netflix queue, but I don't think I will try watching it on a plane.
The snacks were cookies and I took orange juice. The cup was very full and spilled on the poor guy in the center seat. Then after drinking it down I was putting it down an darn if I didn't hit my thumb and spill it a second time. I drank the juice down quickly so as not to risk a third mishap. (As I am handing the empty cup back I almost fumble it a third time.)
We talk to the "college" kid. I was wrong there. He is Army Infantry stationed in Fairbanks. He hopes to go to Iraq. I wish him luck. Actually I got to talk to him a little while before I left. He has been only to two states in the US. I guess it is Alaska and Illinois. He is on a two-week leave and is visiting his family and sleeping. He is looking forward to sleeping. He started on the plane. Even at one point he put his head on my shoulder. He was asleep at the time I hasten to add. Apparently he had taken a sleeping pill so the flight went fast.
We got out of the plane at Chicago. She was saying pants had to go in the wash. Then she explained to the woman next to us that there was some orange juice spilled on the plane. Well, it was a true statement. Of course I know what you are thinking. Yes, it WAS the wrong true statement for her to make at the moment. Yes, I would have chosen a better true statement to make. I would have said "There was a baby on the plane." That would satisfy the woman.
The plane was much overbooked. By the time I was on there was no space left for carry-on luggage. I lucked out and someone left who had had more carry-on than allowed including two overcoats. With him gone there was a place to put my suitcase. The pilot announced we would be getting in about 35 minute ahead of schedule. Three minutes later he said that there was a hold and no planes were leaving Newark so we could not take off. About three minutes after that something changed and the pilot said he had the go-ahead to take off.
The woman between us was a businesswoman returning to New Jersey and we talked to her for a while.
I might as well cut this short. There was nothing very notable about he uncomfortable trip back. We both talked to the woman between us. We called the limo pick up from the plane and they said they would be there in 30 minutes. It took them 32, but ten of those we were getting to the pickup point. I did not know if the car could get to us. There were a lot of cars parked in the area marked for pick-ups and drop-offs only. The police came regularly to chase them off. It didn't do much could. It seems to me the police could pick up easy money just ticketing the obvious lawbreakers right there.
So that was it. It took a day or two to get back to sleeping on a regular schedule.