Stumptown

So between two marathon 300-mile trips there and back again, I got to spend some time in Portland again.

In five days, I got to hang out with both my son and a cat who reveled in waking me up in new and outlandish ways and spent time with my brothers enjoying one of the bands who has always resonated with me on both a musical and profoundly emotional level.

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I got to enjoy not going to my high school reunion, then spending the next day on the campus of my alma mater with 300 gorgeous automobiles.

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I also had an unbelievably embarrassing situation develop while at the show, but that’s another story for another day.

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I remembered why Portland drivers have gotten the reputation for ineptitude which they’ve so overwhelmingly earned, but also how much I miss the sight of both a city skyline and trees.

Portland 2015

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I met up with old friends and new friends, replenished my supply of zen and tried my damnedest to just relax for a change.

All in all, the trip was needed and well worth it.

Until our next meeting, Portland.

 

A Most Unique Sight

There are few things which can stir the most primal emotions and feeling of unbridled awe as the wonder which is a sunset.

Considering they occur every day, it’s easy to take them for granted. I know I do all the time, not that I’m proud of that, mind you.

But every once in a while, if you’re lucky, you get one which doesn’t just astonish your eyes, it stirs your soul in honest and transcendental ways.

What I saw tonight was one of those rare times, and while I lament not having my Nikon with me, I am very glad I live in the age of the smartphone.

Had I someone to physically share this moment with, it would’ve been absolutely perfect.

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Sunset IV

Wildfire

7.01 QU Wildfire DH 1Growing up on the East Coast and in the relatively milquetoast pocket of Portland, I would often see or hear reports about wildfires breaking out during the summer. Acres would burn, homes could get scorched, and I could still go to sleep at night knowing I’m in a fairly safe little bubble.

Amazing what being stepping out of the bubble brings to one’s perspective.

Late last night, a wildfire broke out on the side of the hills separating my town of Ephrata from the nearby town of Quincy.

Editorial Note: When I say nearby, that means less than 20 miles distance separating the two towns. Very little is nearby in this part of the world.

Being reporters, we were already on it, but I asked my editor if he needed another camera out getting footage. He told me to go get some distance shots of the fire, just in case. And out I went.

It’s one thing to see wildfire through the prism of a TV screen. It’s another entirely to see it with your own eyes.

I took these pictures from about a mile off and as I did, the wind was picking up with such intensity that I was nearly blown over two or three times. In case you have forgotten your high school chemistry or biology, if there is something fire really loves, it’s wind, and the speed at which that fire spread was both awesome and horrifying.

You can’t see it in the dark, but there are homes on that hill and with even a subtle change in wind speed and direction, the fire crews trying to contain it would be looking at an entirely different animal.

For the people out here, wildfire is an unfortunate reality in much the same way that tornadoes are to an Iowan or Oklahoman. I’m sure I’ll have to go out a lot more times this season to get some on camera. That doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me, at least a little, is now feeling the vulnerability of looking out my window at night, seeing that reddish-orange glow on the other side of the hills and knowing there’s not a damn thing I can do but hope it gets put out before it becomes a very real threat.

I’ve lived in areas where I’ve had to worry about blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes and for whatever reason, those forces of nature never really rattled me.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit, now having witnessed it firsthand, this one’s got me a little rattled.

An Interesting Week…

What a week it’s been.

As upsetting as it is to have to wait and hear whether or not I can be a teacher next year, I managed to have some good things happen to offset that disappointment.

Editorial Note: Contrary to popular belief, good things do actually occur in my life. Unfortunately, they just don’t do so with the frequency of other people, but they do happen.

Thursday had me drive out into the literal middle of nowhere to see something I could barely believe, but as a Cold War history nut, it was unreal in its awesomeness.

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A decommissioned and abandoned Intercontinental Ballistic Missile base, which would’ve housed four Titan I ICBM’s, had the military put it online, which it never did.

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$127 million to build it in the 1960’s and was mothballed and shut down within a year of being finished. Welcome to military spending.

Today, I went to the local airport to film the annual air race and ended up flying co-pilot for a very nice man who took me on a wild, bumpy and highly entertaining ride.

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We didn’t win, but Tim placed with a better time than he had last year, so it was a moral victory, if anything.

When you’re going through rough times, the moments of levity or happiness you can get are even more important. I got to have two such moments in the span of three days.

With the imminent prospect of going in for my neurological exam on Wednesday, which is something I’m more than a little freaked out about…I’ll take all that I can get.

Wide-Angle Vistas

As much as I love my Nikon D5000 and as much as I tolerate my iPhone, I will freely admit that it does have the perk of allowing panoramic photos to be taken.

Despite the infernal heat, the sunshine has allowed for opportunities to experiment some.

It also helps to have the perk of some rather impressive landscapes to take in too.

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Desert Roses

 

When you start living in the high desert, you expect the most prodigious form of plant life you’ll encounter are the masses of tumbleweeds which seem to be everywhere.

However, these reside on the ledges out in front of my townhouse and I must say they’re a nice bit of color in another wise very brown landscape.

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Stargazing

This is the primary reason I saved up to buy a new lens. I’ve always wanted to master night shooting, but the lenses I had weren’t up to the task.

I think my lil’ Nifty Fifty and I are going to get along splendidly once we figure each other out.

This was taken after the sun went down around 9 p.m. Got all of Orion’s Belt and a wee bit more.

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