Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Office is Closed Till Monday...

I went running with John this morning, 4 miles on the W&OD Trail from Bluemont eastwards, in 41:21.  The new normal.

Half a mile out we ran under an elevated roadway, pretty much at stream level.  That would be the Four-Mile Creek.

As we ran under the bridge, my attention was drawn to a fellow setting up a picture with his cell phone in the darkness.  I'm a jerk who doesn't want to ruin other people's shots so I yelled, "Coming through!"

I should have been looking the entire scene over.  I almost ran over a raccoon there on the roadway, that he was setting up a picture of.

That's not normal.  Raccoons that don't shy from humans, that sit immobile while people are four feet away, are rabid in my humble estimation, and should be given wide berth.

I was glad I was able to skip over the immobile beast at the last moment and wasn't scratched or bit.  I have no desire to go through a regime of rabies shots. 

I wish the jerk setting up his shot hadn't been setting up passersbys for a month of painful shots because of his lack of understanding about situational awareness.  As John and I emerged on the other side of the bridge, we called out to approaching runners, "There's a rabid raccoon on the trial under the bridge, be careful!"

Most runners were wearing headphones and didn't hear our warnings.  It was a waste of breath on our part.

Coming back half an hour later, the same raccoon was there, sitting immobile in the middle of the trail under the bridge as a parade of humans passed by.  This is an animal,, though docile appearing, I wanted to keep far away from as possible.

We got back to our starting point, Bluemont, and I went off to find the Park Ranger at that location but I couldn't find anyone there.  So I called the Falls Church police non-emergency number on my cell phone, because that was the only emergency number I'd entered in it.  (Bluemont is in Arlington.)

 The woman who answered transferred me to the Arlington PD once I'd explained the situation.  You know, like, if anyone gets bit by this thing there'd be a response by the Arlington emergency response of one or two dozen responders.

The Arlington PD weren't too interested in my report of a dangerous animal on the BUSY W&OD Trail.  They transferred me to Animal Welfare which had a voicemail advising me they were closed directed me to leave a message which they'd access on Monday.

Losing interest in this Good Samaritan project, I called one last number, a number on the bulletin board there which directed me to call it to report anything on the trail.  Somebody, in Reston, answered and tried to pawn me off on calling yet another number.

I said, "Please pass on the information about the dangerous animal squatting on the middle of the trail at milepost 3."  "Will do," was the response.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Pacific

On the seventh day of my vacation to the great northwest, I thought I'd wander the neighborhoods of Portland before I took my red eye flight back east.  But that morning I decided to drive to the Pacific Ocean and see a WW2 battlefield.
Huh?  Yes, one night in 1942 a Japanese sub surfaced offshore and shelled a U.S. coastal fort at the juncture of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.  No one was hurt, no damage was done and no fire was returned, but it is the only instance of the mainland United States being attacked by a naval ship of a foreign power since the War of 1812.
I drove out there, and back, along the Columbia River which Lewis and Clark used as a highway to the Pacific even before the War of 1812.  I was staggered by the beauty of the great northwest on this vacation.

Vacation over, I returned home and resumed running at noontime with my coworker L.  On the day this photo was snapped, we ran to the two Occupy sites from last year in DC on the first anniversary of this grassroots effort to wrest control of our country back from the plutocrats.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mount St. Helens

On the sixth day of my trip to the northwest last month, after seeing Crater Lake on the fifth day, I decided to return to Washington and visit Mount St. Helens.  That mountain blew its top (actually its north lateral side) in 1980 with devastating results (over 50 deaths).
It was quite a sight, a mountain with a huge piece missing.  The area around its base, the lava field, looked like a moonscape, even though it had been thirty-two years since the event and a lot of growing had been going on over that time.
I hiked a 2-mile trail on the next ridge over (to the north).  There were blast-sheared tree stumps littered all around on the hillside, and although the area had been harvested for the downed pine trees, there were stands of downed trees around, all pointing the same way, away from the blast.
When the volcano blew its top, after a few months of local earthquakes or tremors, bulging sides and venting gases, the forces boiled out of the mountain at 300 mph and instantly changed the entire landscape for miles.  The actual lava flow was slower but inexorable, and speedy enough. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Special Place

On the back of the Oregon state quarter is Crater Lake.  Its placement there is well deserved.
Crater Lake is a caldera, a bowl formed when a volcano collapses in upon itself.  The basin formed filled up with rainwater and snow melt, the lake's only sources of water. 
Oregon and Washington are volcanic areas.  The explosion six millennium ago that triggered the formation of the lake was fifty times the force of the devastating explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980.
It is a sacred place to Native Americans.  One legend has it that an Indian walked about the jagged wreckage of the open depression while it was still hot and before it started filling with water.  How cool would that have been? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mt. Hood

Come with me on my continuing tour of my Great Northwest trip when I went there on vacation last month.  On Day 1, after flying into Portland, I saw the Mariners play in Seattle and went up in the Space Needle to enjoy the view of Puget Sound.  On Day 2 I hiked around Mt. Rainier National Park.  On Day 3 I drove into Idaho, the last state in the mainland that I hadn't visited.

On Day 4 I drove west through Washington for awhile, then crossed the Columbia River and drove towards Portland alongside that great river.  Lewis and Clark traversed it in 1805 to finish off their trip to the Pacific when they explored the purview of the Louisiana Purchase for President Jefferson. 

 I drove around Mt. Hood, the largest mountain in Oregon.  It's a currently dormant volcano that someday will undoubtedly blow its top with the same deadly effect that Mount St. Helens did in 1980 in Washington.

Then I hung a louie and went south a few hours.  I wanted to see a spectacular sight the next day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The third day of my vacation to the Great Northwest, after seeing a Mariners game on day one and Mt. Rainier on the second day, I drove across Washington to Idaho.  I had never been in Idaho before.

I stopped at a turnout on the border on a little highway from Washington into Idaho and exulted.  As soon as I walked up to the sign saying "Idaho" I had traversed all 48 lower states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). 

Then I drove a few miles south on the main north/south highway in the Idaho panhandle to Lewiston, where I would pass back into Washington and possibly never return to Idaho, ever.  But I found a funky old historic auto trail windy road off the main highway down the steep bluffs leading to Lewiston, an Idaho "deep water port" (up the Snake River, which feeds into the Columbia River, which is the largest river in North America which flows into the Pacific Ocean).

I drove down it at about 20 mph, winding round and round.  Here's a picture I snapped showing all the switchbacks, with the town nestled in the valley below, along the river.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mt. Rainier

I recently read a travel article where the columnist described the difference between how he and his wife approach planning a trip.  He plans how to get there and then decides what to do when he arrives, whereas his wife meticulously plans each hour of every day.

The writer's approach is more my style, because when I went to the northwest for a week last month, after I had seen a baseball game in Seattle on the first day as planned, I didn't have no further plans other than driving into Idaho at some point because I'd never been in Idaho before, the only state in the lower 48 which I had never visited.  I woke up the second morning and started planning my trip.

The paper revealed the recovery that week of the remains of four climbers lost the winter before on Mt. Rainier, apparently a very deadly mountain.  So I went to see it.

It was spectacular all right. even though the road up to the base of it was closed for the season, since I wasn't a climber.  Here's a picture of me at Mt. Rainier Park on the second day of my vacation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back In Business

My Uncle died last year and he was the last WWII vet I personally knew.  When I was a boy, every male adult that wasn't a grandfather was a WWII vet, practically every child I knew had a Dad who was a quiet hero. 

I knew a tank killer in a tank destroyer in Patton's 3d Army, a Marine in the 1st Divison who knocked the Japanese back in the Pacific, a Bronze Star recipient who fought off Japanese kamikaze planes for a full day to both save his ship and earn his commendation, an officer who helped roust the Japanese from the Philippines, a pilot who bombed the Nazis in North Africa, a paratrooper who dropped in on Normandy on D-Day, etc.

But all of these heroes eventually died and I no longer personally knew a single WWII vet, once so common.  Until yesterday.

On a trip this weekend to meet a childhood friend, I met his father-in-law, a Hellcat pilot on an escort Jeep Carrier in the Pacific.  I so appreciated speaking with Ray about his service covering troop landings in the war against Japan and I am gratified that now I still know a WWII veteran.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Made From Plants

Last month I spent a week in the northwest on my vacation, driving about 3,000 miles in a rental car through Oregon, Washington and Idaho, solely I had never been to any of those states.  Unexpectedly, far from being monotonous or pure drudgery, the trip was a lot of fun because I had no idea how beautiful those places are.

More on that later.  I saw a baseball game at Safeco Field in Seattle the first day, where the Oakland As beat the Mariners 4-2 in a game that featured five homers accounting for the six runs.  Ironically, I read an article recently saying the Mariners were moving their outfield fences in next season, by up to twelve feet , to promote more home runs, I suppose.

That's a beautiful park.  From the seats way up high behind home plate you can see both downtown and Puget Sound.  It's not quite like being able to see Russia from there, I suppose, but it's still a wondrous sight, and nobody else hardly sits up there.

 I bought a beer at the park and the container was so left coast.  The cup was "Environmentally Friendly, Made From Plants, 100% Compostable."  I so liked this cup I brought it home.

But I have been worrying that it will leak.  Made from plants, what does that mean?  Is it dishwasher safe?

So I decided to discard it.  But I don't know how.  It seems like plastic, so do I put it in the recycle bin? 

Do I put it in the trash instead?  Or do I throw it on the W&OD Bike Trail right of way behind my house as compost?  There this hardy clear plastic cup with its brown, green and red piping and white and yellow lettering seems like it could sit and compost for years.  What an environmental conundrum I have imported from the west coast. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bucket Lists

I took my summer vacation last month.  I went to the great northwest.

Why?  Because at my age I keep lists.

As in, states I have never been in.  That would be (as of early last month) Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington,

Alaska and Hawaii are hard to get to, so they await another day.  But I put a big check mark on all of the lower 48 last month.

Oh, I also keep track of the baseball stadiums I have visited and I saw a game at Safeco Field (Mariners) in Seattle.  That's an out-of-the-way-place for an east coaster like me, but I got 'er done, so now my bucket list of current major league parks I have not seen a major league baseball game in has been reduced to two (new Yankee Stadium and new Florida Marlins Stadium).