Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trail’s End


Bill & Siobhan are finally wrapping up a two-week escapade which has reached from northernmost Washington to the Pacific Ocean to within 25 miles of the California state line.  There have been chills and spills, rainforests and ape caves and challenging mountain trails, teeming with hungry Sasquatches lying in wait.  Today, we present The Final Installment, a descent into Klamath County and a final return to Portland.  We hope you have enjoyed these tales of derring-do and derring don’t, that our experiences will encourage you to take a walk on the wild side, or even the mild side.  And hurry up.  Here comes the sun.

There being no room at the inn called the Crater Lake Lodge, just as well considering the serious Sasquatch problem, we motored on south to Klamath Falls, an hour in the distance.  We had a room reserved just northwest of town at the Running Y Ranch, an unlikely diamond in the rough of Klamath County, which offered the usual resort amenities including an indoor pool, well-equipped spa, and 18-hole golf course, not to mention its very own deer herd, members of which kept popping up in unlikely spots looking for photo opportunities.

The city of Klamath Falls, originally called Linkville on whose falls the town was sited, came into being in 1867.  To judge from a single pass through the downtown, it hasn’t changed much since.  There are several blocks of occupied buildings but a minimum of activity.  Let’s just say you won’t have any trouble finding a parking space.  Our hearts leapt when we drove by a small building with a Lakeside Opry House sign but, alas, it’s been closed for years.  Most of the action was back at the Running Y, to which we repaired for dinner at the venerable Ruddy Duck Restaurant.  The food was good, the drinks were better and the service was exemplary.  And then there was the bartender.

The restaurant was divided into outside and inside seating areas with the tables in the latter having a clear view of the attractive bar and the televisions therein.  It was easy to converse, imbibe and keep one eye on the Red Sox-Yankees game, which was reaching a wild conclusion.  Boston, behind all day, had mounted a furious rally in the ninth inning and was on the verge of taking over the battle.  Suddenly, the lights went out in Georgia.  Next thing we knew, the Giants-Dodgers matchup was on the screen, not an acceptable happenstance for visiting Red Sox fans who have been drinking.  I reached the bar in one second.  “Somebody here has made an unpardonable error,” I lamented.  “No right-thinking person would ever shut off a Red Sox-Yankees game in the ninth inning, even in Oregon.  Have you no manners, sir?  Don’t they teach you these things in Bartender School?”  Needless to say, this travesty was corrected forthwith.  Boston went on to win the game, I returned to my dinner and things settled down.  The bartender and his aides nonetheless continued to look at the crazy man for further instructions.  “It’s alright, men, carry on,” I waved from my table, reassuringly.  Our waiter rushed over to explain.  “The culprit was some customer from San Francisco,” he explained.  “Obviously, he didn’t know the rules.”





(1)  The Klamath Falls Dam.  (2, 3) The hustling Link River.  (4) Philosopher lives in the moment.


City of Klamath Falls in the distance.


A business break back at the ranch.

Moore Park And Beyond

Upper Klamath Lake, which borders Klamath Falls, is a large (96 sq. mi.) shallow freshwater lake east of the Cascade Range in south-central Oregon.  At the south end of the lake on picturesque Lakeshore Drive lies Moore Park, the recreational gem of the area, with expansive grass meadows for baseball and soccer, an attractive picnic area and connections to an extensive trail system.  Bicycles and leashed dogs are allowed everywhere and take full advantage of the largesse.

The trails have various degrees of difficulty, but none of them are extreme.  Siobhan and I spent about 2 1/2 hours in the park, retreated for lunch, then moved on to a trail along the Link River which led to the original Klamath waterfalls.  The falls are now interrupted by an elaborate dam, which controlls the flow of the river, especially during the Spring snowmelt days, which can get hairy.  Local fellow-hikers told us that it was unusual for more than five of the dam’s gates to be opened to accomodate the flow but that earlier this year all fifteen of them were wide open.  Even in mid-July, the Link was rolling at a decent clip, providing a nice soundtrack for nearby hikers.  The trail was flat and easy to negotiate.  The townies were outgoing, gracious and eager to be of service.  A good time was had by all.    

Later, while Siobhan took a couple of hours at the Running Y to handle work-related issues at home, I drove back into Klamath Falls, meandering through its side streets, traversing the quiet neighborhoods, investigating its private marina, attempting to pry the lid back a little, looking for the city’s soul.  Places like this do not give up their secrets easily, however, it often takes a diligent searcher weeks, sometimes months to peek behind the curtain.  The casual observer writes, and having writ, moves on; the sly detective lingers, questions, follows a crowd, detects an aroma, senses a vibe.  Maybe he’ll be invited to dinner when Mabel Witherspoon parades out her incomparable raspberry pie, the best in 48 counties.  Maybe he’ll be there when a tomboy goddess named Ruby shifts around in her big padded chair, puts her legs up on a crusty ottoman and begins to churn out a vintage version of “Cocaine” in a perfect, gravelly voice.  There’s some magic in almost every encampment.  If you’re resolute, there’s always a clue to follow at Lefty’s Rightwing Bar or the Hole-in-One donut shop.  Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to get out the shovel and unearth the buried treasure.  It probably goes without saying, of course, that none of this applies to locations in Oklahoma and Kansas.






Ah, for the life in the boonies….

How’d We Get To Sopchoppy?

On the last night of our Klamath stay, we ventured 33 miles west, seduced by the promise of music and barbecue.  Those 33 miles seemed like a hundred, but finally, in the middle of nowhere, near the crest of the Cascade ridge in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, there it was---the Lake of the Woods Resort, a redneck campground whose inhabitants were chug-a-luggin’ BBQ and stompin’ to the music.  The band was a rough-edged, heavily tattooed quartet led by a female singer you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.  The tunes were about what you’d expect and there was no shortage of American flags flapping in the breeze.  $5 got you in, assuming you could find a parking space.  We avoided the all-you-can-eat barbecue line, went inside and got fresh trout.  The lakeside setting was gorgeous, sparkling and woodsy.  The resort has a batch of rentable cabins, all occupied, with special events on weekends.  It was almost like being home in Williston, but without the water tower.  Despite the company, no shots were fired.








(1) Voo Doo Donuts, where The Magic is in The Hole.  (2) Hempmania.  (3) The weekend Artisans’ Market.  (5) Food cart central.  (6) The MAX arrives.  (6) Dinner at Little Bird.  (7) The sexy Portland airport.

On The Road Again

It’s a long and winding road, a hot and heavy load through the Cascades and back to Portland.  The temperatures rise about 10 degrees on the western side of the hills but Siobhan’s recedes with the demise of the steep and curvy mountain roads.  We stopped in lovely Eugene, home of the Oregon Ducks, for lunch at a Whole Foods store near campus.  Once again, we encountered The Oregon Presence, vast numbers of young derelicts drawn to overly permissive Beaver State locales (though not Klamath) by shortsighted city governments which make living on the streets easy.  I had to round up a security guard to gain access to the bathrooms, all locked.  “The street people camp out in there sometimes, even lock the doors.  They intimidate people who come in, demand money, scare customers half to death,” averred the guard.  “They fight with each other, bust up the bathrooms, it’s awful.  We have to lock up.”

None of this is slowing down progress any in Eugene, where business is booming and there aren’t enough houses to go around.  This college town, like Bend, is rife with California expats looking for a hip but cheaper place to live, preferably with educational opportunities.  Nonetheless, the numbers of “homeless” increase daily and the government coffers are straining.  In Camelot, that’s how conditions are.







So many roses, so few Baby Ruths


What’s with Portland, anyway?  People, particularly millenials, are moving there in droves even though it rains all the time, the winters are chilly, there’s no major league baseball and the city is the derelict capital of the world.  Worse even, they have Wesen (pronounced Ve-sen) there, monsters like Hexenbiests, Blutbaden and Fuchsbaus, who can change back from docile humans at the drop of a pin.  Not a good town for road rage.

On the other hand, Portland is young and optimistic, a big city with a small town vibe, a town that welcomes the offbeat. “Keep Portland Weird” is the motto, blatantly stolen from Austin, but with the best of intentions.  If a second wave of hippies arose, they would forsake San Francisco for Portland, a city full of well-tolerated oddballs.  The town is famous for its laissez-faire attitude towards residents’ curious predilections, which rings the dinner bell for artists, dopers and merchants of curious products.

It’s easy to get around in Portland.  The buses are plentiful and always on time, the MAX rail trains seem to travel every third street, possess voluminous seating capacities and extend all the way to the attractive, airy, award-winning international airport.  Siobhan and I used them extensively and the price was right, a measly $2.50 senior citizen charge for a day ticket.  Not that anyone is paying attention.  “Who do we show these tickets to?” asked Siobhan.  The answer to that would be nobody, it’s sort of an honor-system enterprise.  Fine for impoverished folks in search of a soup kitchen or a day job, but fine also for the hordes of bums who enjoy a free jaunt from place to place.  Two of them got into a screaming fracas at the back of one of our cars before the dust settled.  Security was eventually notified and a pair of uniformed bouncers entered a couple of stops down the tracks, which is fine if one miscreant doesn’t have the bad manners to disembowel another in the meantime.  “Que sera, sera,” say the city officials.  Concerned residents, however, are asking Commissioner Gordon to turn off the Bumsignal.

They like beverages in Portland.  There are 1,080 coffee shops and 132 microbreweries there, the most in the country for the latter.  They like food carts, too, pungent kitchens of every description churning out everything from short rib burritos to Hawiian-style fish tacos.  The Pastrami Zombie is there and so is Deepak Saxena with his half-pound chicken drumsticks, brined, steamed in tea, deep-fried and slicked with a glaze made from coconut sugar and chai spices.  If you’re a traditionalist who enjoys the relative safety and comfort of restaurants, there are plenty of those as well.  Long-time Portlander and Flying Pie disciple Leslie Logan turned us on to an excellent French place named Little Bird, downtown.  We were there when they opened at 5 p.m. on a Sunday; half an hour later, the place was packed.  Where else but Portland will a French chef give a pushy broad like Siobhan his closely guarded recipe for squash soup?

And then there’s the great outdoors---mountains, beaches, vineyards, rivers and hiking trails, all nearby.  The Interstate 84 waterfall corridor described in an earlier column is just a short drive east.  Downtown Portland is readily walkable and worthy of visiting just for the iconic Powell’s Bookstore, comparable to New York’s Strand, but much more organized.  Computerized to the gills, their staff tracked down and delivered within three minutes several books Siobhan had been looking for since the dawn of time.  You’re liable to find anything here.  The buyback line is constantly busy purchasing and returning out-of-print titles to the shelves, treasures impossible to unearth otherwise.  And if you’re not much of a reader, they sell funny socks.

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.  But Here You Are….

High on a hill in Washington Park on the outskirts of town, together with the Oregon  Zoo, Japanese Gardens, an arboretum and the Portland Children’s Museum, is the sprawling International Rose Test Garden with over 7000 rose plants of over 550 varieties.  The flowers are in bloom from April through October with the peak season in June, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Conceived by Jesse Currey in 1915, the gardens began as a safe haven for hybrid roses grown in Europe during World War I.  Roses started arriving in 1918, and a garden and amphitheater were dedicated in 1924.  Surprisingly, admission is free, which is good because you won’t be taking any women to Portland without going there.  On the other hand, the nearby Japanese Garden, a traditional layout covering more than nine acres, will cost you an entry fee of $5.  And unlike the MAX, those wily Japanese have ticket-takers posted at the entrance.

Portland is poppin’, one of the fastest-growing cities in America.  At the end of last year, there were 60 buildings at least 100 feet tall in the pipeline for the central city, which could use a more substantial downtown.  There are also 14,000-plus apartments which have sprouted since 2012 across every neighborhood.  1700 new hotel rooms are expected by the end of this year.  The regional government reports that 20,000 more people than predicted moved to Portland and its suburbs in 2015, and you know what kind of optimists they are.  Just about every Portlander will tell you the city has gotten noticeably bigger and busier in recent years, confirmed by the city’s per capita domestic product growth of 48% between 2001 and 2014.  By comparison, Seattle’s is 18% and San Francisco’s is 16%.

A significant factor in the growth of Portland is The Great California Emigration, an ongoing phenomenon which finds Golden Staters running north for relief from onerous housing costs and overcrowding.  Every other person you meet in Oregon once lived in California and is busily at work converting the place into Cali-North.   Or California with a twist, if you like.  The techies are coming and the future is bright.  Even the derelicts are moving up in class.  In New York, they might ask you for a buck for a cup of coffee.  In Portland, they demand $13.76 for a Starbuck’s 13-shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra caramel.


Homeward Bound

We left our spiffy digs at the airport Embassy Suites for an early morning flight to Orlando, via Charlotte.  Though we had not a drop of rain on the entire trip--even in the rainforest—we were greeted with a ramp-closing deluge in North Carolina.  Scheduled to arrive in Florida at midnight, we finally arrived at two a.m. and made it home by four.  But we’re not complaining.  The trip went off without a hitch.  We paraded through the lavender fields of Sequim and walked the streets of Seattle.  We basked in the glow of the Hoh Rainforest, inspected the maw of Mount St. Helens and found our way out of the Ape Caves.  We drove to the bottom of Mount Hood and looked over the top of Crater Lake.  We partied with rednecks at the lovely Lake of the Woods and smelled the roses in Portland.  Thanks goes to the aforementioned Leslie Logan for advisories on her city and to the erstwhile Deb Peterson for sending reams of Oregon paraphernalia.  Sorry we missed the Oregon coast, Deb, but maybe next time.

Thanks to the Pathogenes personnel—Julie, Laura, Debby and Chris—for keeping the home fires burning, to Stuart and Mary Ellison for exemplary house and pet care, to the ever-reliable Sharon for horse-feeding duties.  We’ll be off again to Lake Tahoe in October for a five day verterinary meeting, so tune in then for more exciting adventures.  Until then, it’s The Captain and Tennille signing off for a brief respite.  Tennille, bring me a margarita.

That’s all, folks….