Back to Astoria

Life is blessed is many ways.  Recently I have been taking every opportunity to appreciate the simple daily joys and blessings.  For me it is that first sip of coffee in the morning.  For you it might be tea or another beverage – but there is something about the reawakening that happens in that morning ritual.  And I take a moment every day to be grateful for this simple pleasure.

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For the past two years, I have been travelling closer to home – which in my case is the upper left corner of the United States.  The Pacific Northwest.  Like my daily rituals, I had not appreciated the beauty and history in my own backyard.

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Sunrise on the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

A few months back I posted about Astoria – which is the oldest (and wettest) city in Oregon.  Founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company – it has a rich and colorful history.  I am reading the book, Astoria by Peter Stark which I highly recommend. 

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Early morning in Uniontown neighborhood in Astoria.

I stay in the Uniontown neighborhood, which was the largest Finnish settlement west of the Mississippi.  There are cozy coffeeshops, homes nestled into the hillside, and the masive Astoria Megler bridge – which traverses the mouth of the Columbia River.

Nearby is the Fisherman’s Memorial, a wall of names immortalizing the many lives touched by Astoria’s stormy relationship with the meeting of two massive forces – the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

I am so blessed to live in this corner of the world.

 

Portland’s Epic Snow Storm

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I apologize for the delay in posting but Portland is going through one of our biggest snow storms of the last 20-30 years.  The blog has taken a back seat to long treks to work and the joy and wonder of walking and shooting hundreds of pictures in the snow.

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Iconic Portland sign framed by snow.

We got over a foot in the space of about 8 hours.  And it all happened over night so imagine the joy (or horror depending on your outlook) of waking up to this magical new world.  It has been a challenge to get around – the car has been in the garage and I am getting a lot of good walking done.

It has been unusually cold so nothing has melted since the snow fell last Tuesday night.  And we have had a beautiful “wolf” moon – so the moon sets and night time walks have been spectacular.

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The West Hills from the roof of my hospital.

Words really can’t describe the beauty so I will let the pictures tell the story.

On the first morning of the storm – we received about 12 inches and it was still snowing.  Getting to work was challenging – Portland is just not that prepared for these kinds of snow events.  When I finally got on a bus headed to work – our bus got stuck behind another bus (see photograph below).

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A big shout out to Tri-Met our local mass transit company – they weren’t perfect but they got a lot of Portlanders to work, to needed healthcare, to events – the bus drivers did their best under stressful conditions.

Favorite Roads – Columbia River highway

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The famous Rowena curves of the Columbia River highway.

This is a continuation of my Favorite Roads Series… see first Favorite Road post here.

This post and others to follow – I will share thoughts and pictures on  my favorite road in Oregon – the historic Columbia River highway.  A 75 mile scenic two lane road following the Columbia River from Troutdale to The Dalles in Oregon.

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The highway near Rowena Crest is a great area to cycle.

Photographing the historic highway provides a bounty of creative opportunity – from waterfalls to tree lined roads to historic structures (Vista House, Multnomah Falls Lodge), bridges, wildflowers, hiking trails, basalt columns, and views – in the posts ahead I will share some of my favorite spots.  Today’s post is about one of the most famous sections of the highway – the Rowena loops and crest.

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Balsamroot and lupine as far as the eye can see at Rowena Plateau.

As with many great rivers across the world, the Columbia River has a tremendous history – from native Americans to the explorers Lewis and Clark – the Oregon Trail, and in the 20th century the burst of dam building and the building of the new freeway which parallels the historic Columbia River highway.

Pictured at the top of this post are the famous Rowena Crest curves – one of the most photographed spots in Oregon.  When the highway was built vehicles could not manage anything more than a 10% grade – so engineers created a series of  curves and loops to make the gradual 500 foot ascent to the top of Rowena Crest – not knowing they were creating a photographer’s dream.

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Rowena Narrows – where pirates would dwell.

Before dams flooded this area – Rowena was where the river narrowed as it passed basalt cliffs – Rowena Crest on the south side and Klickitat River watershed on the north.  Pirates and others tried to seize boats passing through the “narrows”.  There was a small army post at the base of Rowena Crest to protect the boats and others in this area.  A young Army lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned here for a short time before he went on to become a famous Civil War general and then president of the United States.

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View of Columbia River highway from Rowena Crest.

Oregon Mountain Snow Day

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Mt. Hood Meadows

Coast, Columbia Gorge, mountains, wine country – such abundance and so much to be grateful for here in Oregon.  In 2016 I did a lot of exploring and only barely scratched the surface.  I can’t wait to keep going in 2017…

New Years Eve – my older brother Phil and I opted to explore Oregon’s Mt. Hood ski area.  He skied and I pulled a camera out of the bag that I haven’t used for a while.  I need to sell it but like an ex-lover, I wanted one more day together.

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Crystal cone

We went to Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center – full of friendly, fit, sober, Subaru owners!

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Big brother looking awesome!

Walk with Thee

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As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.

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Last Day of Snow

The thaw has begun and today is probably our last day of snow in Portland for a while.  It was an exciting few days – especially spending the night on the floor of my office at the hospital.

Today I wanted to capture the brilliance of the sun shedding its light on our beautiful, snowy Portland landscape.  Snow is rare in Portland – this won’t be something we see for quite some time so I wanted a way to capture it.

One of my BFHAG’s for 2017 is to get better at my video skills.  So why not share my first attempt – that way all video’s after today will seem like an improvement!

I would love ideas, feedback, video topics, whatever you got.  This is all part of my creative journey – not to mention my midlife crisis of buying too many photographic toys – and I deeply appreciate all of you being a part of that journey.

Do you have any big ambitious goals for 2017?