Friday, October 07, 2011

Under Kandorian Skies

Yeah, it is irony when it takes me longer to tell you about the vacation than it did to experience it. But that's what happens when you have a lot of plays involved.

So this is closure, wrapping things up. We left Ashland, stopped in Portland overnight, and then headed up the Columbia Gorge to Marysville, jumped over the border into Washington State, stopped for dinner in Yakima, then home in the evening. The end.

That IS a Doozey!
Oh, all right, the details. In Portland we stayed as the Modera, a small downtown hotel reimagined for an upscale crowd - the rooms are small but original art is everywhere, and the central court is dominated by a green wall of plant cover. The afternoon was spent at the Portland Art Museum, which had a nice permanent collection within a pair of already-existing buildings, creating a large number of cul de sacs and side rooms. Three Monets, four Rodans, a John Singer Sargent.  A very nice collection, and if you haven't been, you should go. The interesting thing was a temporary show of "the Art of the Automobile", which translated into classic cars parked throughout the main gallery. Things like Steve McQueen's Jag, a Tucker, a Corvette Sting Ray, and my personal favorite car of all time, the 1931 Duesenberg (where you get the phrase"That's a Doozey!")

You hear that Portland is a younger and more vibrant town than Seattle, and its downtown has much to recommend. The hotel was awash in young artistic professionals, and walking back from dinner, we passed a group playing D&D on the porch of a game store while a young lady was parked under a lampost using the wifi. In downtown Portland. OK, I can get with it.You're younger and hipper than us. That's cool.

Kate's favorite modern art piece
The day following Portland was a day of hits and misses. We got to the Portland Rose Garden, which was all in bloom. Kate enjoyed the foliage while I considered the idea of roses as genetic intellectual property, and the huggamugga a few years back about patenting a life form. But we missed the Tea Garden. We drove up the gorge to a beautiful overlook to Vista Point, a thirties-era project that looks from afar to be something that escaped from a GRRMartin book, but could not find anything of Maya Lin's Confluence project, which is being developed along the length of the river. We got to Marysville and toured around the great Stonehenge there , but did not get to the museum there because we took the "historic" road up to Vista point, turning a 2 hour trip into a 6 hour one.

Vista Point, with wildfire.
And all under a strange red sky (hence the title of this entry). Oregon was on fire, or rather a chunk of it to the west of Mt. Hood. From Portland it was a grey line across the sky, like a belching smokestack. First I thought it pollution trapped under an inversion, but as we climbed beneath it, we discovered that the ground beneath our feet turned red from the scattered light, and our shadows were strange and shifting. It was a subtle shift as we moved through the waterfalls along the gorge, and gave the sidetrips and small hikes we made a strange quality of another world.

Oh yeah, waterfalls are all along the south side of the gorge, with walks of various length to get there. Personal fave was the Bridal Falls. The Multnomah Falls is higher, and closer to the main road, with the sad result that it was mobbed by other tourists, and parking was a pain. So if you walk, take the long road and hit the smaller falls for a better experience.

The Marysville Stonehenge
Oh, and the Stonehenge (having seen the original in England). It was created as a war memorial for local WWI vets by Sam Hill, whose tomb is nearby. The intent was to underscore that we have not advanced that far since the savage days when the original was set up. Mind you, this new version was a) built with concrete as opposed to individual stones, b) was set up to be what they thought the original "fixed" original arrangement of the henge was, and c) not oriented to the stars like the first one, because at the time they did not know about that feature. But the thought is good.

The end result of all this was about three weeks of extremely upbeat work, almost to a manic point. I was hopelessly aware that I was MUCH too much in a good mood upon my return, and had to back it off a few notches lest I frighten friends and co-workers. But it was so good to take a real vacation. I really should do it more often.

More later,