please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Leaving EO

"The desert spring is something very special. Most beautiful things are short-lived. Suppose a sunset lasted forever- we would scarcely notice it. The glory of dawn passes as we watch. Utmost perfection in a rose exists for a day. So it is with spring in a harsh and forbidding setting. The air is not yet filled with the summer dust; it is sweet, clean, and bracing; distant hills are magically close at hand so that every person owns two telescopic lenses; desert flowers tentatively offer their gentle and beguiling paradise to passing insects; all of nature is tasting life to the full." - E.R. Jackman, 'The Unshorn Fields' from The Oregon Desert

We were lucky enough to be in the desert in spring this year. Lookit some photos.

Here would be the cliffs just north (?) of Frenchglen, in the Diamond Craters area. I really should have taken more pictures on this entire journey, but I was driving more or less constantly, and when I wasn't trying to figure out where the hell I was, I was contentedly grooving on the beauty of the landscape. I was too busy experiencing things, man, okay?

Here is a closeup of the same cliffs. Note how they kind of look like tiki heads. Were I in a different phase of my life, I would have spent all day here, just exploring and photographing.

Not now though; I'm all macro and shit. Furthermore, I'm still trying to figure out this new, fancy digital camera.

A typical field south of Burns, along the Silvies River. Shot taken randomly from out the open side window of the Meep.

Again, no establishing shots, no nothing. Just random stop n' shoots, when the impulse struck. One day soon, I shall be back to documenting in a finer style, and yes- makin' art, just as soon as I'm as comfy with this thing as I was with my various analog cameras.

The insects of the low desert are legion, and famous for being so. Last time I was in these parts (over twenty-five years ago, at Malheur Field Station, which is right south of this pic), we were issued this clear, viscous liquid that smelled like chemical death itself. It kind of prevented me from getting stung hundreds and hundreds of times.

I don't remember what it was called. Maybe it's only available down there.

Another shot from the same road. With the converging lines I like so much in a picture. I believe this was an attempt at capturing the beauty n' contrast of a red farm house set amid endless blue sky and a carpet of purest green.

And again, probably a month from now, most of the contrast will be entirely missing from the region.

Something I forgot to point out about Burns is that they have responded to ongoing economic stagnation by having most businesses fulfill two or three purposes. It gets creepy at times, how ubiquitous it is. My favorite place for breakfast in this town, for instance, was quite happy to make me a croissant sandwich, which I enjoyed. As I sat doing so, a local woman came in, and was greeted with, "Hello Evelyn. Coffee? Do you want me to test your blood sugar?"

After a fine breakfast at the deli in Burns that serves a good croissant sandwich and also will offer to test your blood sugar, we headed north, into the Malheur National Forest. I kept wanting to take pictures, but I also wanted to get where we were going before it was completely dark out. There was smoke hanging above the distant hills, and the Willie station wouldn't stop playing that damn song by Billy Bob Thornton's band, which is about Willie. Brown noser...

Then up through Seneca, with our first views of the Blue Mountains, which contains the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. This is Strawberry Mountain, as viewed from a ridge northeast of Prairie City.
Prairie City doesn't sound like an especially pretty place -just based on the name- but it really is.
It reminds me of all those old gold mining towns that dot the slopes of Colorado's Western Slope, (which Bee has already noted elsewhere) and I shoulda taken pictures.

Art! A shot of our reflections in a pillar in Baker City, the Queen City of the Mines. We had wandered lazily across the high mountain meadows, through Austin and Whitney (both of which are largely un-populated, though not entirely), stopping at Sumpter, which hosts an enormous outdoor flea market, and serves as a living reminder of exactly how destructive placer mining is to a landscape.
Bee fell in love with Baker, and with John Day, Canyon City...Eastern Oregon at large. On one hand, I can cynically reply, "Well, try being there longer than overnight..." But it's true: beautiful old buildings set in a stunning natural mise en scene seems like just the thing for the yearning soul. I too wish that a whole bunch of people with money and interesting ideas would move to places like Baker City.
Am I one of those people? Maybe one day. It's true that I rarely attend live music any more, or watch much avant-garde cinema in theaters, so why live in a city? Well, can't really commute six hours as a stagehand, and urban areas still score higher in the decent restaurant department.

On the other hand, I've been practicing to be a cranky old fuck for much of my life, and think I would kinda fit in with a place like Baker.

The atrium of the Geiser Grand Hotel. The place was easily as beautiful as the advertising suggested, and due to the efforts of one Barbara Sidway, we were updated from a wonderful room to a wonderful room with a parlor.
Barbara has a nifty web-crawling program that is, I believe, a feature of Google, and sends her an email whenever anyone mentions the Geiser Grand at all on the web. Needless to say, but I'll say it again, Thanks, Barbara.

I am, as has been mentioned before, a person who loves old things. The bar alone at this place enchanted me, but add in a writing desk and a library, and you got me. The parlor made me wish we were hosting a bunch of people.

The joint is staffed by a bunch o' smart ass ladies in their early twenties. Generally amusing, sometimes nowhere as entertaining as they think they are. That said, they're still more engaged and professional than your average person working in the Columbia Gorge, where we spend much of our time.

The view from our window. Note that the former hotel -probably more recently an apartment building and currently empty-called The Antlers, described itself as 'Absolutely Modern'. Another sign on the west face of the building elaborated on this a bit, but some of the paint had been obscured over the years, and it sort of seemed that 'modern' could be defined as "we will set your children on fire", or something.

The next morning we tooled around town for a bit, reluctantly hitting the road west. Stopped in Pendleton, stopped in Boardman, checked the changes. Rolled into Portland circa sunset, picked up da Thug Dawgz.




Blogger The dish on single Chicago said...

Hi Rich,
I hope this is the same Rich I use to know in Portland, OR when I worked at The Body Shop. If it is you, how are you? Your blog is really fun and clever. Where is your brother these days?

11:58 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Hm. That was weird. Bee is flying to Chicago today. When one follows this link back to its blog, one finds pretty much nothing there, but...

Hey, Kym. My name isn't really Rich.
I did, however, enjoy many Body Shop products, in the late '90's.

11:44 AM  
Blogger LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Now I want to go to Baker City. Thanks for the overview. I tend to really dig old too.

10:19 AM  

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