October 16, 2012
A statue honoring the Veterans of the Korean War stood watch over a lone Dodge at the county park. Across from the empty jungle gym, unidentifiable country music from a Central Oregon radio station hummed through the ‘lowered windows. The west wind bent the top of the pine trees and wafted over-heated coolant from the front grill of the truck. A girl’s legs hung from the passenger window and a shirtless teenager slouched in the bench seat. It was late summer 2012 in The Dalles.
“Should we tell them their engine overheated?” My mom said, leading her Irish Terrier, Lucy, down the sidewalk.
“No, Mom… let them be,” I said, taking the leash from my mom’s hand and continuing along.
It’s hard to predict which moments come to identify a specific place or time, often it’s the most seemingly trivial ones that capture my imagination and spark my sense of nostalgia.
Here are some more links,
West Wind (Facebook).
June 27, 2012
Just off the Jet
“I gotta see what vanlife is all about.”
“Yes you do man, you’ll love it.”
Our plans came together last minute. With three days notice, Phil bought a round trip ticket from Newark to Portland. Escaping from the confines of a late spring in New York, the idea was to show him what the Northwest had to offer in a vanlife crash course. I picked up Phil a little after noon on a Tuesday, and we headed east into the Columbia River Gorge.
An ode to Lewis and Clark on the Columbia River.
Shred sticks of yesteryear.
Blaze is a Ford Ranger.
Burned out snag.
After three days of relitively pleasant weather for early spring, the weather turned south. Rainstorms that felt more like November than June marched in one after another. The temperature dropped.
“Do you want to fly out of San Francisco? I need to head that way anyway, and it would be easy to drop you off at SFO.”
“I’d be into that. Cali calls.”
“Plus we can get out of this rain. It will be nice down there.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Just like that our plans changed. Instead of hanging around Oregon for another four days, we headed south over the Cascades towards Cave Junction and the 101 in Northern California.
Here are some more links,
South With Phil (Facebook),
June 21, 2012
The sound of overflowing whitewater cut through the densely wooded forest long before the single track trail led down to the stream. Walking in our wetsuits, we moved quickly, hoping to avoid unnecessary conversations with hikers about our clothing choices and plans to scramble up a high flow stream.
Sliding down the steep banks, we rested on the narrow shore. Staring at the clear flowing water in anticipation, I pulled the hood flap over my head and secured the zipper of my 4/3 wetsuit on my chest. Tim and Spencer followed suit, tightening their hoods around their faces. Stepping into my knees, the cold water rushed through a slit in my left bootie.
“Ohhh yahh, it’s cold,” I said moving further towards the base of a small waterfall. ”You guys ready?”
Reluctantly, Spencer and Tim followed suit, wading into surging stream.
“Bro..this is frio,” Spencer said in exaggerated, Socal surfing fashion. “What do you think the temp is?”
“Ughh maybe mid 40′s, It’s always warmer than you actually think it is.”
“It’s pretty fucking cold,” Tim added.
Taking the plunge, I dove forward in the chest deep water. The cold attacked my sinuses and forced me to surface and gasp.
”Shit. Maybe it’s low forties.”
Keeping our heads above water, we moved upstream towards the first set of rapids. Taking turns, we tried to climb the small waterfalls. Taking others failures and success as examples we slowly made our way up the stream.
Taking a break from shooting with film, I took these on my 5d Mark II and an underwater housing.
As kids, Tim and I hiked the trails by this stream and watched its changing flows.
My brother and I accessing the next obstacle.
Spencer making his way across a shallow section.
“There’s no way we are getting up that,” I said, pointing towards a 12 foot raging waterfall.
“Not happening,” Tim agreed.
Looking up the narrow canyon towards a log jam, my mind immediately raced, imagining a catastrophic failure of the make shift damn. A wall of water the height of a refrigerator would charge down the canyon. Accelerated by the occasional log, I imagined bouncing down the canyon like a pinball before being deposited on the bank. That wouldn’t end well. Looking up and down the walls, I eyed an escape route from the hypothetical flood. There were none. Sheer cliffs covered in moss, extended some 20 feet up towards the canope of the various evergreens. The only way out of the canyon was back the way we came.
“You guys ready to head back?”
“Yah I’m over it,” Tim said in a tone that could have been explained by a similar conclusion about the surging pile of logs at the mouth of the canyon.
Here are some more links,
River Otter (Facebook).
June 19, 2012
Cruising down the PCH on my way towards LA, my cell phone cut out, ending my conversation with Dan. I was in a talkative mood and tried call him back. Nothing. ”The service is always shit here,” I thought to myself and continued on my way to Malibu.
Up a head, a slight figure walked d0wn the side of the road wearing a backpack. As I passed, I slowed and gave him the once over. He was clean cut, maybe in his late fifties, wearing a pull over fleece and running shoes. Certainly not your standard variety of Tropical Zombie that wonderes up and down the California Coast looking like an extra from Waterworld. Down shifting, and pulling into the shoulder, It took me a couple hundred yards to slow to a stop.
In my rear view mirror, I watched has his slow gate pick up to a jovial combination of jogging and fast walking.
“Where are you headed?”
“South, as far as you’re going. I’m on my way to San Diego.”
“Alright, well I can take you to downtown LA or Santa Monica. Hop in.”
“Thank you so much, I really appreciate it,” he said as he slid open the back door and dropped his backpack next to my board bag.
“No problem man, happy to give you a lift.”
“My name is Abel, what’s yours?” He asked genuinely as he jumped up into the passenger seat.
“Like Cain and Abel? My name is Foster. Nice to meet you Abel.”
For the next hour, our conversation rambled without the limitations of acknowledged future interactions. When time with another person is finite, conversations develop quickly. We talked about our travels, where we’ve lived and surfing. When he asked where I was from, I told Abel that I was born in Portland but grew up in the Columbia River Gorge. Looking like I just rattled off a name of a Mongolian provence, I then explain that it’s about 50 miles east of Portland on the Oregon and Washington border.
Outside of the Northwest, few people have heard of this region or its beauty. Answering the primordial desire to explain your home, I take it upon myself to enlighten people about the Gorge to anyone that will listen. Seeing that Abel was trapped in my van on our way southward, he had little choice but to listen to my prosthelytizing.
Sunset on an old pasture.
The Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, Oregon.
The green room.
“She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”
The Washougal River Valley.
Maddie is the most famous dog in Hawaii, maybe even the world.
An orchard in bloom in Moiser.
Dock Life in Washougal.
High flows on the waterfalls.
The mobile changing room is back in action.
“Alright, anywhere hear is good. I’m going to try to take the PCH down to Longbeach tonight,” Abel said motioning towards a parking lot on the side of the PCH in Santa Monica.
Pulling over at a Chevron, I shifted into neutral. ”Good luck man. Hope you get down to San Diego soon and if you ever make it up north, check out the Gorge. It’s a little slice of heaven. You won’t regret it.”
“Sounds like it. I can’t wait to see it. Safe travel’s Foster,” Abel said shouldering his pack.
“You to Abel.” Pulling out of the parking lot, I watched in my rear view mirror as Abel marched down the Santa Monica Sidewalk. “Good luck!” I yelled out of the open window.
Here are some more links,
The Gorge (Facebook).