August 11, 2014

The Fourth

“Would you take 45 bucks a piece for those mortars if I buy five packs of those bottle rockets and some of those blackcat firecrackers?  Ohh and some of those waterproof firecrackers too?

“Ehhh normally we do 55 for those mortars.. Let me check with my boss.  You paying card or cash?

“Cash.”

“Okay, I’m going to grab the boss,” a partially toothed man in his forties wearing a Seahawks jacket announced as we left the firework shack and headed towards a nearby trailer.

After a minute or two,  the trailer’s screen door flung open and out marched the matriarch of the firework stand, followed closely by her genuine Seahawks apparel-clad henchmen.

“You paying cash?” She said with out breaking stride.

“Yup.” I said shifting my gaze away from the wall of fireworks and towards the 5o-year old Chinook women.

“Well pick out everything you want and we can go from there.” Her demeanor and the way the other Chinooks hanging around the firework shed and accompanying trailers treated her with reverence reminded me of Pilar from For Whom the Bell Tolls.

I nodded in approval and returned to the  task of selecting enough  fireworks for the coming night’s festivities.

As a young kid growing up in the Columbia River Gorge,  we would head east down the 14 to a handful of Native fishing camps and buy fireworks in the days leading up to the Fourth.  Starting in June, I’d scrape together as much allowance as I could to spend on Mortars, M80′s, bottle rockets, Saturn Missiles, and assorted firecrackers.  Overcome with excitement,  I would blast off my bag of fireworks before sunset on the fourth.

Years spent on the East Coast and in New York City where discharging the fireworks of my childhood would earn you an interview with a few men with suits and ear pieces, built up a strong yearning for the sizzle of a fuse and the smell of discharged gunpowder.  This year, for the first time in the last three, I was in Washington for the fourth.

Blasting.

Rainers.

One of my favorite movies.

“Ohh Shit”

Tying off three mortar fuses into one.

After Half an hour of haggling,  I exchanged with the firework Matriarch a wad of bills for a box full of fireworks and headed towards my truck. Heading west on the 14 through Bingen and Underwood,  hundreds of of kite boarders punctuated the Columbia’s whitecaps.   I had two hours or so before the sun started setting.  With any luck, I’d get to blast off my first mortar before it was dark.

Here are some more links,

The Cinder Cone (Tumblr).

July 22, 2014

The Cinder Cone

 Throughout my travels, I reference the area I grew up in, the Columbia River Gorge, as a yardstick to measure a place’s charm and beauty.  After three years of living out of my camper, I’ve decided to set up a seasonal home base a stone’s throw from my childhood stomping ground.  Informed by my time living in the modest space of my VW and Toyota camper, and inspired by the work of friends like Jay Nelson, Tucker Gorman,  Trevor Gordon and Lloyd Khan, I decided to follow up on a lifelong dream and build a tree house.

I started working on ideas and plans with my long time friend, Tucker Gorman, in January for a cabin on piece of property owned by my family in the Columbia River Gorge.  The plans developed from a lone 200 square foot cabin to multitree house and finally settled on a studio suspended between two Douglas Firs connected via suspension bridge to an octagonal cabin,  35 feet off of the ground. Although competent working with wood and design, we needed help with the logistics and engineering behind tree house building and turned to family friends, Michael Garnier.  Michael is a pioneer in the world of structures in trees and came up with the Garnier Limb, a large metal bolt that a tree grows around and strengthens over time.  He told us what was possible given the trees we have,  large second-growth Douglas Firs, and plans were finalized.

The idea of building tree houses in the rain didn’t appeal to any of us,  so we decided to wait until summer to break ground.  One month ago, a crew of tree house pros installed the platforms and handed the project off to Tucker, myself and a group of friends.  We’ve been hard at work for the last month and are shooting for completion during September.  I’ve been documenting the build on my Instagram and on The Cinder Cone’s site and hope to put up a zine with photos of the build from myself and others that stop by and work on the project.

The Grateful Goats.  Two Soay sheep and three goats have been munching blackberries all summer.

Taco time after a long day of working on the the tree houses.

Looking west towards Portland, the night after work started on the trees.

Dean cleaning out the wood-burning hot tub.

Locally grown and milled 3×12′s for the foundation of the hot tub and the staircase stringers.

Rigging equipment and supplies.

Tucker lowering a limb and making way for the 16-foot octagon.

Stacking wood in the locust-framed shed.

MEOww

Firing up the twin turbo tub.

Burning out a Douglas Fir log for a bath tub/dunk dank.

Trimming a 4×4 for a timber framed bunk bed.

Setting the glulams for the 28×16 foot platform.

 

Ian Weedman and his mobile tree-house building shop.

Organizing supplies for the summer.

The last month has passed in a blur as days of waking up balled in a sleeping bag, drinking coffee and climbing into the trees to work turn in to weeks. After long days, I fall asleep thinking about the day’s work and curious what will come the next.

Here are some more links,

The Cinder Cone,

Michael Garnier Treehouse Equipement,

Perspective Design Build,

@Fosterhunting,

@Sirjosephdirt.

June 30, 2014

Spring in the Northwest

The gap between sunny days shortened.  Daylights savings came and passed without incident as spring finally a rived in the Pacific North West.   Passing the time before summer,  I bounced between the coast and mountains. Here are a collection of photos shot from March to the end of May in Washington and Oregon.

Hollowing out a Doug Fir.

BZZZ

Howling at the moon.

Cherry Blossoms in South East Portland.

A double rainbow at The Cinder Cone.

Volvo 240′s kick ass.

Manzanita.

Slicing up a home grown turkey.

Nick Dirks, Scotty Wittlake and Alex Burton lounging at Pacific City.

Early spring in the Gorge.

Waking up by covered in dew.

Parked on the 101.

Frying up some potatoes.

Showing Tucker Cape Horn

Downing a Doug Fir by hand.

Dean and Marie’s bacon pigs.

Lucy look out towards Manzanita.

Ned trimming the beams for the decking of the tub.

Ned and Alex tending to the wood burning tub’s fires.

Scotty Witlake’s 4×4 Chinook Camper on the Oregon Coast.

Looking up the mouth of the Klickitat River from Mosier, Oregon.

The tried and true Toyota truck and a canopy. 

For more photos from this time check out, thecindercone.com, a tumblr I started to document the building of two tree houses and a skatepark on a hill top in the Columbia River Gorge.

Here are some more links,

The Cinder Cone (Tumblr),

March 25, 2014

Rained Out In February

The forecast called for rain beginning Thursday and lasting through the weekend.  California was in the midst of the worst drought in decades and I took the forecast with little more than glimmer of consideration.  Trevor, Maddie, Chelsea and I caravanned up from Santa Barbara to Big Sur on Wednesday morning.  The weather was stereotypical of Central California; mid sixties and the typical north wind.   The stars shined bright and uninhibited by clouds as we circled the wagons a few hours after dark.  Light tapping started on the aluminum roof of my camper late Wednesday night and by morning, the dishes from the night before were over flowing with the first rain the area had seen in months.

With the exception of few hour long breaks in the storm, it rained sideways for the next 72 hours.  Searching for shelter,  we parked in the lee of trees and under the cover of red woods.   Instead of hiking around the hills and surfing point breaks,  we hunkered down in our campers and schemed plans for spring and summer.

Chopping tomatos.

Slippery when wet.

Chelsea and Maddie taking a dip.

Frying up some veggies.

Misting.

Target practice.

Check out the Woody and The Blue Ox shorts here.

Sand Dollar Beach.

A soggy campfire.

Rain for days.

A break in the storm.

Chelsea blasting.

Trevor cooking up an afternoon snack.

“I’m ready for spring and summer.”

“No shit.”

“Weather like this makes it better when it comes though.”

Here are some more links,

Escape from Bigfoot Country (Vimeo).