Truffle hunting dogs article by Laura McCandlish

Great article in The Oregonian newspaper by Laura McCandlish (of BaltimOregon blog) on truffle hunting dogs:

Until last year, Gusto, a 6-year-old search-and-rescue black Labrador retriever, didn’t know a sumptuous truffle from a poisonous puffball mushroom. While she had sniffed out crime scenes and searched for cadavers since she was a puppy, her Eugene-based owner, Jean Rand, found it difficult to go out on those 3 a.m. calls. Wasn’t there a more regular daytime pursuit for Gusto’s keen nose? (full story)

I wish my dog Oyster could do this!  How can I train him to do more than sniff out treats in my pocket?  Are there truffles to be had in Maryland? not sure, but maybe ginseng hunting hounds could be another alternative.


Lynnhaven River being removed from Clean Water Act list of impaired waters

[image courtesy of Sue Love, via Flickr]

This year, 2010, the Lynnhaven River will be removed from the 303(d) list of impaired waters, a feat that was hardly imaginable a decade ago.  EPA considers this a success story as does a Virginia Beach environmental non-profit, Lynnhaven River NOW, that helped make it possible.  Congratulations!

Create Consumer Demand for Local, Organic Foods

reposted from

” After visiting our Saturday Baltimore, MD farmer’s market teeming with local produce, I know that seasonal supply is not a problem.  America is still very much an agrarian country; I can measure my degrees of urbanity in “minutes-traveled-before-seeing-a-cow.”  How then can we create demand for fresh, local foods in the most pedestrian food venues like grocery stores, food carts, and chain restaurants?  On an individual level, this year I resolve to do something different…  and ASK where my food comes from.”  (continue reading at

Healthcare Guest Blogger :: Lloyd Conover

Guest blogger, Lloyd Conover will be posting a series of articles on the US healthcare debate, based on his experience using both the US and UK systems from 1970s to the present.

“Born in Orange, New Jersey, Conover received his A.B. from Amherst College in 1947 and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1950. At first he thought he wanted to teach, but he joined the fledgling Chemical Research Department of Pfizer instead. There he joined a team which was exploring the molecular architecture of the broad-spectrum antibiotics Terramycin and Aureomycin. The tetracycline patent was attacked in court from its issue in 1955 until the final ruling in 1982. But Conover’s patent was consistently upheld by the courts. Conover also led the Pfizer team which, in collaboration with Harvard Professor R.B. Woodward, first synthesized from small molecular building blocks, 6-demethyl-6-deoxytetracycline, the simplest member of the tetracycline antibiotic family. Together with coinventors W.C. Austin and J.W. McFarland, Conover patented the anthelmintic drugs pyrantel and morantel in 1972. Pyrantel remains a leading drug for the treatment of most of the intestinal worm parasites of man. Each of these drugs also retains an important place in the control of such parasites in farm and companion animals. Conover became research director at Pfizer Central Research in Sandwich, England, in 1971. He retired as a senior vice president in 1984.”  (Inventor’s Hall of Bio)

Road trip (4)

d12 :: SALMON ID :: Oct 12

By the time we woke up (9 am) the hotel parking lot was empty, as all the hunters had apparently left at sunrise.  We proceeded to eat granola, and pack a day bag with swim suits, towels and lunch for a trip to Goldbug Hot Springs.  Goldbug is 22 mi South of Salmon on rt-93 (mi post 282).  The Goldbug trailhead is at the end of a side-road off rt-93; then to the springs a moderate 2 mi hike into National Forest Service, save the first ¼ mi on private ranch land.  The morning was cool (40s F) and we stripped layers as we hiked up a sagebush-covered ravine past a roaring luke-warm stream. The final ½ mi of the hike was a rock scramble up a mountain, passing pine stands and dense vegetation fed by the springs.  When we arrived, there were already 2 other groups of locals soaking in a 98 F pool on the right bank of an icy mountain stream with a 105 F pool free on the left bank.   We headed towards the hot pool that was dammed by rocks to contain a bubbling stream of water that fed into the pool just 3 ft up-stream. Moss, algae, and maybe bacterial mats grew along the hot spring source, but the soaking pools were crystal clear.  The water temp was too hot for extended soaking so we cooled off in the chilly stream every 10 min or so.    As the locals were leaving, we headed over to say “hi” and check out their pool, which was actually a series of two dammed pools set amid large boulders. The pools were 2-3 ft deep with fine gravel beds, and we found ourselves walking on our hands to navigate the space. The water temp was about as close to bath water as one could imagine.  There was a gushing (5-10 gal/sec) hot waterfall dropping 4-ft into the upstream edge of the main pool, hidden behind a few boulders.  The hot spring water in the waterfall was well mixed with the cold stream, so the effect was a massive shower-head that gave a perfect back massage!  We soaked for about 2 hr until our skin wrinkled, then headed 2 mi back to the trailhead to start our drive to Wyoming.

The drive south on rt-93, past Challis, ID, and the Lost River Range was breathtaking. In the Lost River Range valley we passed the largest mountain in ID (Borah Peak 12,662 ft), which was only slightly larger than the rest of the surrounding snow covered peaks on either side of the valley—a space that felt vaguely pre-historic in proportions.   A lone homesteader lived in anonymity in the center of this massive valley in a thimble sized home.  As we passed Borah Peak, we reminisced over other large peaks we had passed in Oregon (Mt. Hood 11,239 ft), Washington (Mt Raineir 14,410 ft), California earlier that Summer (Mt Whitney 14,494 ft).

We ended our drive at dusk West of Yellowstone National Park in the Eastern corner of Idaho.  We camped among patches of snow on a high meadow in the nearly empty Henry’s Lake State Park—just a few days shy of the end of the camping season.

d13 :: WEST YELLOWSTONE ID :: Oct 13

Driving into Yellowstone National Park, we immediately saw cars pulled over gawking at a group of mule deer.  I wanted to pull over and photograph those people as a Gary Larson-esque satire, but Wendy hadn’t seen the park before so we pushed on to the hot springs.  With a kind of giddy excitement we traversed the high plains with geysers, bubblers, clay pots, and aquamarine pools all steaming on this cold, damp morning.

This was the easiest national park to experience from a car, which lessened the experience for us, but I could see being important for handicapped visitors, elderly, and others bound to their cars or car-culture.  In one parking lot, steam emerged from a crack in the asphalt to belching sulfur-smelling gas on parked cars.  Of course there was a cone over the crack, as a warning of the dangers of encroaching nature.

Due to drizzly weather we camped out and made pasta under the awning of a closed-for-the-season lodge by Old Faithful.  Apparently, a crowd had been forming to watch the geyser, but I couldn’t be bothered as the onions needed to be browned for our tomato sauce.  While cooking several camera-happy Asian tourists asked to take my picture with Oyster and the good eats—  I guess they thought we were authentic!  Yellowstone wasn’t as amazing as the PR companies make it sound, and so after lunch we continued south to the Grand Tetons.

We pulled off the road to switch drivers by Lake Jackson, and were amazed at how the mountains could rise 6,000 ft from the valley floor to the peak of Grand Teton (13,771 ft).  As described in a visually-eponymous visitors center (designed by BCJ), plate tectonics and a fault-line drove the mountains upwards and the valley down, then retreating glacial activity left lakes beside the mountain range.  Weathering washed soil free from the peaks to reveal sharp granite faces that were now snow-covered.

We drove South to Jackson for espressos then 6 mi more to Wilson for the night, staying with Anna’s friend Emily.  We learned more about the life in Wyoming, the Tetons, hunting etiquette, and fishing stories from Emily and her roommate and fly-fishing guide Dan over split pea soup and cornbread.   They gave us great recommendations for hiking and camping, advice we used over the next couple of days.

d14 :: WILSON WY :: Oct 14

We started the day by taking Oyster and Emily’s boyfriends dog Otis for a hike on the Snake River levy. Otis was a 7 yr old, stocky yellow English Lab trained as a bird hunting dog, and an excellent stick fetcher.  The two O’s had a great time romping in the brush and along the river, so we left them together on a couch by the fireplace while Wendy and I took a 6 mi afternoon hike in the Grand Tetons National Park around Taggart and Bradley Lakes.  We had a rare close-up encounter with a moose that crossed our path, which was my first encounter with these huge vegetarian ungulates.  Further on we saw big moose tracks in the snow, along with deer and dog (which is illegal in the park).   Although most of the day was cloudy and drizzly, the clouds parted a few times and created amazing rainbows close enough to touch. ROY-G-BIV!, Wendy reminded me as I tried to name the colors I saw.

We returned to Emily’s house to pick up Oyster, say good-bye and thanks for a great stay.   We headed an hr South on 191 and just after dusk camped along the Green River south of Bondurant WY.   I boiled pork sausages and steamed kale and zuchinni, and as we ate the clouds broke to reveal a starry dome unspoiled by light pollution.

d15 :: BONDURANT WY :: Oct 15

We slept that night in the back of the car, and woke to find the sun creeping over a distant ridge. We pushed the bags out of the driver’s seat and descended the dirt road 100 m to the Green River where we ate breakfast.  I made grits with caramelized onions and tomatoes on the side.  Oyster found some deer bones (vertebrae and ribs) that kept him occupied as we sat in the sun until 10 am.

Another driving day, so not much going on.  We dropped down Wyoming to I-80 and then headed west to Cheyenne in the Southeast corner of the state. We were hit by sweeping rain, which were visible as a grey blur below dark clouds on the horizon.  Approaching Cheyenne there were wooden fences that acted as wind breaks.  Wyoming is big and took all day to cross.  Wed dropped into Fort Collins (the day of the infamous boy in a balloon from that town), and stayed that night and then next 2 in Boulder, CO with Erin, Chris, and their 18 mo old daughter Ellery.

d16 :: BOULDER CO :: Oct 16
Wendy and I took a 6 mi hike in Boulder to a local peak with their dog, Eli, and ours.  We took our time because we weren’t acclimatized to the altitude, although we were only about a mile high. The weather was pleasant (55 F) and warm enough to hike in shorts and a t-shirt as long as we were moving.  At the peak we had a great view of the town and Denver to the East and snow capped Rockies to the West.  After signing the peak log-book we chatted with a crazy local with a pet parrot.  Every city has them—why should Boulder be any different..  In San Francisco there is a man who trained a rat to stand on a cat to stand on a dog, and in Berkeley is home to numerous other proud parrot owner.

d17 :: BOULDER CO :: Oct 17

We visited Erin’s parents house West of Boulder in the mountains.  They were renovating an existing house and were excited to give Wendy a tour. The exterior had patches of corten steel just beginning to rust, and hardy plank to reduce fire risks. The interior was gutted and steel supports were added to replace load bearing walls that were removed.  The space was airy and inviting, with sweeping views from windows and a two story high ceiling above the kitchen area.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it is finished!

After our late morning visit, we headed to the Saturday farmers market w/ Erin, Chris, and Ellery, and got to meet their friends at a semi-regular meeting spot.  We ate some delicious Salvadorian pupusas and Vietnamese pot-stickers while talking with their friends.  That afternoon, Chris and I went cycling up in the mountains for an hr or so.  The roads were just sanded for snow and although the snow melted the sand remained and made our descent a little tricky.

d18 :: BOULDER CO:: Oct 18

We woke early, said goodbye to Erin, Chris, and Ellery and thanked them for their hospitality! We headed south towards Denver, where we got on I-70 East and drove about 9 hours until we reached Lawrence, Kansas.

At dusk we camped 6 mi West of town in Clinton State Park.  The area of the SP we camped was closing for the season the next day, and the park itself only had a handful of people in it.  We pitched a tent and left for dinner and a beer at the Free State Brewing Co on Massachusetts Ave downtown.  The beer was awesome.  We shared an Octoberfest and a Oatmeal Stout.  The food was less amazing— I am used to locally sourced foods, which wasn’t on Free State’s radar.   After dinner we drove gently on the old brick streets of Lawrence, cruising for WiFi.

d19 :: LAWRENCE KA :: Oct 19

Oh yes, another long driving day.  We past Kansas City and crossed the whole state of Missouri.  We arrived in St Louis around 4 pm and met our friend Brendan W. at his architecture studio on the Washington University campus. Brendan is entering an architecture competition to redesign a New Orleans grocery store and we got to see his plans.

After school we headed to a local pub with Brendan to meet a few Davidson College ultimate frisbee friends, Davoli and Martin, who also go to Wash U.   I asked, and yes there is a local laundromat with the same name. Unlike Lawrence, this place did not brew their own beer but had a better selection, including a great cask ale and better than most bar food.

d20 :: ST LOUIS MO :: Oct 20

Ok, another long driving day—possibly our longest.  There are more trucks than cars on the interstate this morning.  I am surprised that there aren’t tolls on more interstates, especially those heavily used by commercial trucking operations to move freight. This trip has opened my eyes to the trucking industry after seeing many trucks traverse the West and Central US.  I’ve also been collecting and reading trade magazines and newspapers at rest areas, like “Trucking 2000” a shameless advertising rag and a “The Trucker” a 60-page bi-monthly newspaper.  The last October edition of “The Trucker” covered the American Trucking Association (ATA) Management Conf. and Expo in Las Vegas, NV, which selected that city because it was “as far from Washington, DC without being in California,” said the CEO of ATA.  The tone of the rest of the newspaper was focused on trucking business and politics with a familiar right-leaning anti-Obama slant, with a corporate slant.  There were a few articles on truck technology, maintenance, and health, which were all focused on efficiency and productivity and little else.  Because it is free to readers, I wonder who pays for this newspaper?  It definitely has an agenda.

We stopped for Thai food with cousin Kate in Knoxville which was great!  After dinner, Wendy, fueled by Thai iced tea, drove over the Smoky Mountains to Asheville, NC in the dark.

Road trip (3)

d8 :: MT ST HELENS WA :: Oct 8

We headed out of camp and drove 1 hr into the blast zone around Mt St Helens about 10 mi short of the peak.  We pulled off the main road onto a battered one-lane road “not suggested for use” due to overgrown trees and large cracks but we used it all the same.  We reached the Norway Pass trailhead at about 11 am, which was late enough for the sun to emerge and heat the earth around us.  When we headed out on our t 6 mi round-trip hike, we were met with a surreal Martian landscape of ashen soil and golf-ball sized volcanic stones.  All pre-1984 trees were blown over and decomposing.   Younger plants around Mt St Helens were sprouting up through and amongst the volcanic ash— including plenty of blueberries with fruit and bright yellow and red leaves.  Unfortunately the blueberries had a slight ashen taste, but were so plump and round that I couldn’t help but stuff my face till my finger tips were blue.  I should point out that Wendy only ate one blueberry, so maybe I will get some rare fever in a few days and fall ill. The only other person we encountered was a park ranger in the parking lot, what a quiet and peaceful trek. Photos of the hike are on flickr under day 8.

At the end of the hike we scurried down the slopes of the mountain and drove on to civilization and the Peuget Sound Area.  Dad/Cliff gave us a great Google recommendation for tent camping in Kopachuck State Park buried in old secondary growth conifers on the shores of the Peuget Sound outside of Tacoma, WA.  We were the only people in the Park aside from the campground host!

d9 :: PEUGET SOUND WA :: Oct 9

We left the state park early and headed 1 hr north to Seattle for some architecture sightseeing.  Our first stop was downtown Seattle where we picked up an American Institute of Architects (AIA) sightseeing tour map to get our bearings and then grabbed a snack of fish and chips at the waterfront markets (beware a tourist trap!).  We headed to the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhauss, which happens to be one of the most playful, smart, and well-used public buildings I’ve ever seen.  Next we visited a college campus near downtown to see the Chapel of St Ignatius by Stephen Hull.  “The chapel was a simple, open space that had thoughtfully designed openings that collected natural light through muted colored glass,” said Wendy.  We then went to an old Gas-works plant turned public park; north of downtown on the water this park was a great place to watch the sunset across the city skyline.  After playing among rusting skeletons of exposed steam pipes, turbines, gears and obsolete steel armature, I could easily see this park single-handedly doubling the number of aspiring young engineers across Seattle public school system.

We got a great tip from Wendy’s sis, Hannah, to eat at Paseo’s, a Cuban hole-in-the-wall, restaurant in NW Seattle on Freemont between 42nd and 43rd.  There was a line out the door, which from my SF experience is a good thing and worth the wait. As soon as our food arrived two of the five tables in the restaurant opened up—we had our pick, unlike 90% of the patrons who did take-out. Wendy had a spicy grilled scallop sandwich and I had the house special, a fatty roasted pork sandwich with large slices of grilled onions, aoli, and pickled jalapenos.  We shared rice and black beans, which were so amazing I could have ordered just that and had one of the best meals of the whole trip.  After Paseo’s there wasn’t much left to do in Seattle—that is how satisfied we were—so we headed East till about 11 pm when we hit a wall and sprung for a cheap roadside motel.

d10 :: SEATTLE WA :: Oct 10

A driving day with not much to report besides amazing scenery, a misspelled “expresso” road sign, and a brief stop in Spokane, WA for lunch in a park.  In the Pacific NW espresso is more than a fad it is a business plan.  We saw white-capped mountains while passing through the Shoshone and Clearwater National Forest in Montana, and were a bit surprised by the cold weather (17 F).  We decided that since it was colder than our sleeping bags were rated (25 F DL; 20 F WL) that a hotel wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

We chose the wrong weekend to be in Missoula, because it was not only a home football game but Homecoming weekend. Ugh!  Every hotel room was full, except the one waiting for us ;).  Our La Quinta motel faced a gas station and a Irish Bar / Casino, even though there was a beautiful stream passing 20 ft behind the property.  If I had my way I’d move the retaining wall and chain linked fence in front of the gas station and bar and have a creek-side entrance.  If it weren’t so damn cold we would have liked to camp.  Too bad northern Montana was experiencing record low temps for October 10-11 (as low as 9 F). Believe me, we would have liked to stay downtown, but with homecoming weekend we took what we could get.

d11 :: MISSOULA MT :: Oct 11

Late in the morning we drove North of downtown a couple miles for a day hike in the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area on snow-covered trails.  It was cold (25 F) though we were in the wind-shadow of a canyon and after moving around we warmed up quickly.  After the hike we wisely stopped in a camping store so we could buy proper winter hats and I picked up a winter jacket—anything could be warmer than the thick surfer hoodie and tattered wool sweater that I had been wearing.   By suggestion from a friend Laura, we ate lunch at Bernice’s Bakery ( for a veggie quiche and a bunch of day-old / half-price oatmeal muffins.

From our initial minutes in the old downtown Missoula, the city of +50,000 seemed like a quiet mountain town with a small thriving university (U of Montana).  The city is the second largest in the state behind Billings, and the Missoula metropolitan area hosts 1/10th of the state population (Montana has 1 M people).   After driving around the whole town for 1.5 days we saw Missoula in a different, less appealing light.  The city has three distinct business districts that tells a nice story about urban growth:

1) A 1890s – 1920s historic downtown with multi-story brick and stone buildings.  Small blocks, slow traffic speeds, and crosswalks allow bikes and pedestrians to flourish.  Bars, shops, and restaurants exist but so do vacant or underutilized spaces (ex: winter restaurant hours 10am – 3pm).  Mixed-use present. (Livable grade: A)

2) A 1960s – 1970s business district a few miles south of the Clark Fork River with mini strip malls and small shops with individual parking lots.  The shops’ glimmer is fading, looking like it never shed its post-winter rock salt, dirt and grime.  This area is somewhat connected to bordering neighborhoods and newer neighborhoods grew around it. The district makes no effort for mixed-use spaces. Bikes use the roads, cautiously. Odd traffic retrofits and non-gridded streets are problematic.  It appears that the lower traffic speeds and volumes that make bike/ped work only because the car traffic has moved to the newer shopping center. (Livable grade: B)

3) A 2000s – Present business district several miles west of downtown that is easily accessible by car using the first of three interstate exits heading East into Missoula, but is not easily accessible from downtown.   This district appears to have grown out of the typical interstate exit gas stations into more elaborate and newer big box stores (Target, Walmart, chain fast food).  Livable city planning was apparently not considered at all.  In this new development the city of Missoula either sold out or got squeezed out… was this growth used to increase the tax base?  Either way the results are disastrous for non-car oriented culture (Livable grade: F).

In thirty-year cycles Missoula had a chance to (re)focus growth to downtown.  Each generation of developers, beyond the Depression Era folks, destroyed an otherwise beautiful mountain town. City planning was set aside in the 60s and 70s southern commercial build-out, and then the same mistakes were repeated on a grander scale in the 2000s. You will love Missoula if stay within walking or biking distance from downtown (1-3 mi radius?).  The downtown motto is “buy local” but I feel it is too little too late.  The new commercial district has already been built, and for every person spending money downtown, there are 10x more people shopping out of town.

Slightly frustrated with Missoula, we headed out for the 150 mi drive to Salmon, ID— an amazing drive South along a wide valley on route 93, paralleling snow covered peaks in the Bitterroot National Forest.  Midway to Salmon, ID we crossed the Lost Trail Pass (7,000 ft) that we knew was clear of snow by checking the Idaho Transportation Department mountain pass cameras (

We entered Salmon, ID at sunset and took a walk down Main St (it is the main st), passing 3 saloons, a coffee shop, 2 real estate shops, and no chain stores besides gas stations (ha Missoula, it can be done!).  Pick-up trucks parked in front of a bar that had severed moose and deer heads poking out the back surprised us.  Oyster was pretty interested in those trucks.

We stayed at a typical cinder-block motel with the room door opening onto the parking space.  We cooked tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on the stoop alongside hunters who were grilling steaks on a gas powered mini-Webber grill.  These hunters were nice, jovial, and not as scary as the guns and monster trucks they own.  The best thing about the hotel, besides the cost ($50), was the local Lemhi Co newspaper, The Recorder Herald (66 cents).  I am so surprised that an area with such a small population can produce a quality weekly paper that is as detailed as it is.  Every birth gets ¼ page and every death gets ½ page, and silly stories about neighbors who did something different gets ½ page.   Although the paper wasn’t free of typos or grammatical mistakes, the articles were genuine and upbeat.

An example of news from the Herald:

Salmon, ID residents competed in the US Bowling Congress Women’s Championship in Reno, NV.  Of note, Colleen Kerines (age 80) did pretty damn good, won a little money, and got to visit Nevada relatives.  [not direct quotes, just paraphrasing the article]

Here are some brief quotes from Police Reports in the Herald:

September 29. “A main is walking south bound on Hwy 93 South who seems to be confused and is walking close to traffic lane”

October 1. “Cows are on the road”; “A deer has been hit on the highway…”

October 2. “A man is reportedly walking along the highway with a blanket”

October 3. “A man, who seems disoriented, is reportedly walking on the side of the highway” ; “Caller complains about hunters shooting from the road” ; “The driver of a big, black Dodge with Oregon plates, stopped in the middle of the road to shoot at some elk.”

Road trip (2)

d4 :: CORVALLIS, OR :: Oct 4

After a morning jog with Oyster, Dan, Laura, and we went for a hike up a local hill.  The blackberries overall were past their peak but still had lots of big juicy berries left.  My fingers were purple only a few hundred feet into the hike.  After stretching our legs and doing laundry, we drove the 1.5 h to Portland, OR in the afternoon.  When we arrived in Portland, we stopped first thing at a camping store and I bought a warmer sleeping bag, as we expect to be camping in cold weather for the next few weeks.

In Portland we met Anna at her apt in SE Morrison x 39th St, and then headed out for a meal with Davidson Outdoors friends, Julie and Christina, at The Farm Café (  Anna was starting a new job as a clinical social-worker the next day and chilled with Oyster for the evening.

d5 :: PORTLAND, OR :: Oct 5

Wendy took her time waking up, and so I walked 2 blocks to Pine State Biscuits and bought breakfast.  The restaurant seated < 20 and had a sturdy take-out line forming around the coffee.  They were about 6 staff working hard to crank out their signature dish, “the Reggie” – a biscuit filled with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and gravy, which I could not pass up.  I ordered Wendy an egg and cheese biscuit and brought the whole mess back to Anna’s place.

To stretch our legs that morning we walked around SE Portland neighborhoods and ended up on top of Mt Tabor, a neighborhood hill turned city park.  There were dozens of other folks enjoying the park in sunny but cold (wold) 66 F Autumn weather, including some downhill skateboarders in flannel shirts and caps.  The way back from Mt Tabor was all downhill, and we arrived at Anna and Brooks place just as she was returning from a biscuit lunch.

In the afternoon, we walked with Anna to the Natural Foods Co-op near 30th St, and picked up toppings for a pizza we were to make in the next hr.   With dinner we also tasted Brook’s pickled spicy green beans.  Later we walked to a local bar/ hookah /coffee shop called Pied Cow.  The Cow had a Punk meets Victorian-feel in a richly furnished apartment of the latter era.  An outdoor beer garden was for the smokers, but we ate inside.   Unlike Berkeley there were no outdoor heat lamps and drinks were cheap.  While drinking we met Christina, and heard about her possible non-fiction writing assignments on professional foot fetish services and urban spelunking.   Good conversation about weird topics.

d6 :: PORTLAND OR :: Oct 6

Portland has always been high on my list of cities in the US, because of the euro-city feel, bike culture, and bike infrastructure.   All things said, I was sad to leave.  We had a few errands to run before heading out, and one of which was visiting Powell’s Books an amazing multi-floor independent bookstore.  I found some hard-to-get bike books and Wendy picked up a couple of architecture books, including one about Santiago Calatrava’a bridges, and a new Isabel Allende book.   Anna lent us a book about hot springs, which was a good start to our first adventure in the Cascade Mountains.

We picked up some floating sushi (7$ for 2!) and headed out to Bagby Hot Springs in the Cascade Mountains near Mt Hood  (rt 224 – Mount Hood National Forest) for the night.   We hiked in to the hot springs (1.5 mi) and took a 1 hr soak in a hand-carved tree trunk tub.  Amazing set-up, and mid-week we saw < 20 people!  Hot spring water flowed from into a wooded trough that carried the water past 5 personal bathhouse rooms and several multi-person soaking tubs, where the hot water taps and tub drains were corked with swollen and smoothed wooden plugs.  This particular hot spring was discovered in 1888 by Mr. Bagby, a hunter.  Friends of Bagby built the latest version of the soaking facilities in 1984, though repairs and maintenance are needed continuously since the site received around 10,000 people a year says the Forest Service.   Our thought on hot spring graffiti: Q. How do you keep people from destroying beautiful places?  A. Make the buildings in those places even more beautiful and reverent.

As the sun was setting we headed another 0.5 mi down the trail to a campsite near a creek.  We cooked beans and rice, and got in the tent exhausted at 9 pm.

d7 :: BAGBY HOT SPRING OR :: Oct 7

In the morning we made green tea and oatmeal with walnuts and honey.  Oyster played in the stream while we cooked and later sat shivering from the cold.  He needed to be draped in a sleeping bag for several minutes before regaining his playful mood.  We hiked out after another 1 hr soak, and as we left carried a bag of trash as a service to the spring-goers.  We packed up the car again and headed off to Washington State.   New thought for the day: Amazing how espresso is sold roadside like gasoline.

As we dove towards Seattle and were only 1 hr shy of the city we were lured back East into the Cascades.  Mt St Helena and Mt Rainer looming larger on the horizon.  We drove in the Pinchot National Forest for tent camping and dreaming in the shade of the mountain that has laid dormant nearly our entire lives. Cooking pasta and tomato sauce (from the garden) was a satisfying end to a hot-spring day.

[photos at organized by day of roadtrip (#) and title]