Friday, June 22, 2007

Another weekend away

This time we went to Anacortes, in the San Juan Islands in northern Washington. Anacortes is a pretty cool place. It's on Fidalgo Island, the easternmost in the archipelago, and there's an oil refinery nearby. Not helping prevent air pollution, but it's cool to draw.
My aunt and uncle live there, on a hill overlooking the ferry dock. There's an amazing view. You can see the heavily forested Cypress and Decatur Islands over a couple miles of water. Here's a map to clear things up:On the second day, we went into downtown Anacortes, to the bookstore where my aunt used to work. It's got a very good selection of books for its size. I bought "Lady Friday" by Garth Nix. It's very well-written and original. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy stories. But read the other books in the series first.
On the second day, we took the ferry to Friday Harbor (Accessible only by air or water) on San Juan Island. It was a long ride, about an hour. The ferries are amazingly spacious, though, and there weren't a lot of people on board, so it was a nice ride. We rode the "Hyak". Sounds like a bad cough.
After arriving in Friday Harbor, we wandered around for a while, ate lunch in a little cafe, and I accidentally stole something. That's right. It was a little brochure that amazingly cost $3.00. I took it, believing it was free. Whoops. I realized it cost money after about half an hour, and my mom convinced me to buy it from the bookstore where it came from. I would have just returned it. That would have made the most sense, but mom wouldn't let me. Not exactly sure why...If I had returned it, I would have had enough money to buy another book. Damned sales tax. That's why I like Oregon. No sales tax!!!
I bought it, and bought a manga that I was unable to find anywhere in Portland, at a different bookstore. Then we had some ice cream that was really perfect. I visited four bookstores in 24 hours. That must be a record or something. We went back to Anacortes in the Hyak--*ahem* Excuse me.
The next day we left. The drive home is 300 miles and five hours or so, but fortunately I came prepared. I had the Knox podcast on my iPod. Knox is a genius. He's an animator that makes really funny and sometimes retarded clay animation movies, and his podcast is hilarious. I entertained myself with that for several hours.
It's really fun going up there. We haven't visited my aunt and uncle in several years, and it was nice to do it again. They live in such an awesome place.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An awesome way to spend a weekend.

My brother and I went with Anders and Molly and Lucy and their families out to Smith Rock in eastern Oregon for the weekend. I'll tell you, that is like the coolest place I've ever been. We camped near the edge of a cliff. I will say, thanks to my slightly BORING PARENTS, I have never been camping before. This was a great place to do it for the first time.
Smith Rock state park is made up almost entirely of basalt and volcano slag. At "ground level", you're already 2800 feet off the ground. Then, add another 700 feet of solid vertical rock and you're getting there. There are two main peaks, Smith Rock and Misery Ridge. (Damned pioneers, coming up with such depressing names...) They both just shoot up. Smith Rock is five hundred ft. high, and Misery Ridge is up at like seven hundred. Most of this is straight up vertical. It's so FREAKING HUGE! I was having serious perspective problems looking at the view. The hill slopes down into a valley, with a river that looks to be about a mile away and 500 feet down from the campsite. It is. Which is why it hurts your brain to then see, just beyond the river, there's a massive rock wall that you have to strain your neck to see the top of. Here's a picture.
It's a big rock climbing attraction. That was one of the reasons we went there, was to climb. Molly and Lucy's dad is 52 but he's an expert rock climber. Me? Acrophobia. We hiked up to one of the climbing walls and I could already see there was no way I was getting up on that. We were high enough up already(that's where this pic was taken) and there was so much vertical space I was starting to tip sideways. My brain was thinking, Which way is up? Every one else climbed, though. If we do this again, I'm gonna try. Conquer your fear! and all that.
There were all kinds of animals in the area as well. The campsite field was positively infested with rabbits. There were lizards everywhere, too. Vultures populated the crags near the peaks, waiting for some climber to fall off, I guess. There were also lots of deer, and a magpie perched on top of our tent at four in the morning yesterday and WOULDN'T SHUT UP. It kept on with its "AAIP! AAIP! AAIP!" And woke everyone up about six times.
It was an awesome trip. I'd write more, but it's late and all the hiking had worn me out. Enjoy the pics. Ten-four. Over.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Neighborhood Improvement!

Yesterday I went with my dad to a meeting that aimed to improve our neighborhood. It's not the nicest. It was the second of two meetings, and I didn't get to go to the first, which is annoying, because that was the one where people could comment and come up with ideas and suchlike. This one was more of a presentation of the results. I still learned some interesting things though.
The thing about this project is no one is really sure when it's going to take effect, and how long it will take. The eventual goal is to remove all the crappy bars, adult-oriented businesses and other undesirable storefronts. Along with that, people want to host more neighborhood events like a farmer's market or street fair, and also lower the crime rate and increase safety. It sounds good all in all, but once again I don't know how long it will take.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

AGONIZINGLY HOT...among other things.

Wow. I haven't written anything in 18 days! Is my life that boring? :)
Anyway, today the whole family went on a walk hike thing up by Forest Park. It was nice enough. After walking for a while, we ended up by a stone building that, according to my dad's ever-helpful hiking guide, was built in the 30's as a sort of rest stop. In 1962 the roof blew off in huge storm. Now it's a decrepit four walls, with various graffiti. Originally there were bathrooms in the building, but they've been walled off with cement. I shudder to think what they look like now...there were also candle stubs and burn marks in a lot of places. Satan worship?? Who knows. Equally odd was what someone had written 0n a sign..."here there be goblins" and "become one with the sacred light" or something like that. How weird is that?
We continued along the path, running into what was supposedly the largest tree in the park and probably the entire city, come to think of it. It was a good hundred and seventy feet high, and five feet wide. For scale:
See that little man next to it? My dad. Six feet. Cripes.
After that, we encountered some random guy on the path who said "Hey, want me to take a picture of you all together?" Admittedly I thought he was trying to steal our camera. It's a nice camera, and getting a total stranger to take your picture is often something you have to beg them to do. But he didn't. He took our picture. He seemed to be in a very good mood.
By the time we got back to our car it was beginning to bake. We went to Powell's after that. I love Powell's. It's the biggest single bookstore in existence, so obviously there's a lot to look at there. I didn't have any money though :(
Still it was fun. Every time I go there I'm reminded of how freaking cool it is. Whenever I have extra money, I'll probably end up there.
That wasn't all, though. At this point, the air was reaching the point where it could melt cheese. And we were going to go help some friends move stuff so they could remodel their attic. After half an hour of this, we were all half dead. We slowly began sinking towards the floor, until most of us were lying at ground level. Then our friends decided to reward our help by taking us out to dinner. Very nice of them. My dad, for some crazed reason, felt like going home and washing dishes. Dishes! Ah, well, more food for us. I think. We went out to eat, and saw a sailing ship going by on the river. It started firing cannons, too. That pretty much wrapped up the evening, and we went home. A very long day.