Friday, July 31, 2015

"To Hell With Hirohito" !!

Who would have thought we would end up in a war zone yesterday ... right on the coast of Oregon no less!!  It was a pleasant enough day ... a beautiful sunny day in fact ... when we hit the first beach in  Fort Stevens State Park near the mouth of the Columbia River.  There were bicycles galore with lots of kids enjoying the sand and water.
We stayed just long enough to get this picture of all that remains from the wreck Peter Iredale, a four masted ship that ran aground in 1906.  She sailed from Mexico heading to Portand with 1000 tons of ballast, when wind and high seas ran her aground on the Clatsop Spit.  The plan was to tow her back to deep water, but her fate was sealed when she listed to one side and became buried in the sand.
A little further north is the South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River.  Known as the Columbia Bar, it is one of the most dangerous waterways, with over 2000 ships having been sunk here.  Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, the river shoots into the ocean like a fire hose causing conditions to change from calm to life threatening in a matter of minutes.   The tower you see gives you a birds eye view of the coastline and the jetty built to help keep the huge river open to big ship traffic headed to Portland Oregon, one of the major shipping hubs of the U.S.
In order to help lessen the forces of nature, this VERY long jetty was built with huge boulders hauled from the mountains by steam trains and dumped beside the tracks as they went.  You can even see pieces of the trestle beneath the rocks as they backfilled their way along the coast.
This would have been an amazing feat of engineering.  You can still see part of the trestle that goes inland for miles across waterways and sloughs!!
There are a couple of places you can stop along the Columbia River and test the waters.  I have a feeling it was a little too cold for my taste!!
The birds love it however, with a constant breeze to keep them aloft, the pelicans were searching for dinner!!
From the jetty we backtracked a little to find Fort Stevens Military Installation, built near the end of the American Civil War.  You might think this wouldn't be a very interesting place to visit unless you were in the military, but I think these sites are fascinating.  Did you know the United States was fired upon by Japanese Emperor Hirohito??
Constructed in 1863, it was part of the Three Harbor Defense System, including Cape Disappointment (later known as Fort Canby) and Fort Columbia to protect the mouth of the Columbia River.  
In June 1942, a Japanese submarine surfaced off the coast and fired at the fort.  Thankfully,  they were bad shots and missed everything except the baseball field backstop.  
Needless to say, the American soldiers were immediately ready to return fire, but were ordered NOT to.  Talk about some angry men ... they fired on us and we can't fire back??    Although many were never able to understand the reasoning, they did as they were told.  It wasn't known at the time, but they think our smaller guns wouldn't have reached the submarine, but it WOULD have given away their position in the dark of night.  
Can you imagine their frustration??  I bet there were some bad words said about that general!!    Thus the Hirohito sign above was painted and placed at the fort by the men.  

Here's a replica of the original two ARF (all round fire) battery guns that could be fired in any direction, 360 degrees around.  This Mishler Battery is one-of-a-kind among U.S. Coast Artillery installations and was completed in 1900.  
In the rooms below the guns, you can see where powder was stored in silk sacks and tested for moisture before being added to the guns, along with the mortars transported along these rails to a lift system taking them above.
Two more batteries are just a short walk away, all of which you can crawl over, under and through, imaging you were a soldier looking for a Japanese submarine on the horizon!!  
This was the steam plant, built into the mountain and filled with General Electric generators to provide electricity to the installation.
If you want even more information, you can sign up for a tour and take a ride in a troop carrier around the park.  It looked like they were having a great time!!
After checking out the museum and small gift shop, we headed back to Seaside for more kite flying.  Trouble was, neither Terry and Nick nor I could get the wind to cooperate.  It just wasn't quite enough to get our kites in the air and keep them there.  No matter, it's always fun to spend time with friends, especially while relaxing at the beach on such a beautiful day!!

The Chance Restaurant produced another great meal of Dan-barbecued pork loin with farmers-market fresh corn and asparagus!!  Maybe the wind at the beach will cooperate today so I can work on my farmers tan a little more!!  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pigs And Goats And Chickens ... OH MY!!!!

Little did we know what friends we would make at the Clatsop County Fair yesterday.  There's nothing better than a good old fashion county fair with the spotlight on agriculture (except maybe good wind for my kite).  Some however, were unimpressed with all the hullabaloo and took a nap!!!
Instead of the normal concrete and asphalt, most of THIS fair happens in the dirt.  We parked in someone's field and since it was Senior Day (we were all feeling kind of senior), instead of walking up the VERY steep hill, we grabbed the local Tractor Tram.  Our Senior Entry Fee was $1.00 each.
I practically RAN to the arena when I saw the horses going in.  Most likely this was a horsemanship class where the kids are judged on their ability to handle and show their horse.  I think I was 14 or 15 at my first horse show in Mariposa and so nervous I threw up!!  Lucky for me, I got first place!!  
This little fair had everything ... most all in one really big building.  There were a few of every variety ... beef cattle, dairy cattle, one with a sign that said don't get too close, he's a good kicker!!
The chicken competition was going strong as these 4-H kids showed off their babies.  I've actually not seen this many weird looking chickens in my life.  I'm thinking plaid was a requirement!
We had just plain old brown chickens on the ranch where I gathered the eggs every day after school.  I didn't know they sold eggs in the store until I was in eighth grade!!!  All these guys got first place before going to the Grand Championship!!  How cool is that?
Showing their dairy calves, these three boys did really well as the calves drug them around the arena. I tried this too, but my little Arizona-desert-born baby didn't fare so well.  How can you get third place when there's only two in the class???  
There were friendly goats (lots of goats) trying to eat my camera strap ... and my fingers ... and sheep galore like this friendly baby.  
Pigs of every size and color ... a little on the stinky side.  You haven't lived until you've smelled a barnyard pig in YOUR barnyard!!!
Here's the beauty that was sleeping above.  She had seven or eight little piglets chowing down on dinner.
In the second building were sights you don't see much any more.  Row after row of pickled things, canned things, jams and jellies ... many sporting ribbons.  Interesting to note here .... the ribbons are not first and second place .... they are blue ribbons and red ribbons.  I like their take on this ... no one is FIRST ... they are just BLUE!!
We looked at some great photography, some amazing bouquets like this one and some of the most spectacular, gorgeous flowers Oregon can grow!!  
This one is for Barbara and Tom Westerfield.  Their daughter runs the floral department of the Big Fresno County Fair that I will attend when I return home.  
Outside the dog show was in progress as we watched kids take their pets around the course, jar of peanut butter in hand!!  Sometimes this guy didn't want to do the required activity, like go through the tire instead of around it, but this boy persevered and got it done, which we all applauded.  It's not about being the best ... it's about completing the task!!!  Unfortunately the second dog refused practically everything ... I don't think she had seen this course before!!
Then we came to the "good stuff" as far as Dan was concerned.  These BMX bike riders can do tricks you wouldn't believe!!  This particular kid isn't a "kid" at all.  He's 45 years old and has been doing this most of his life.

Three bike riders wowed us with their gravity defying tricks, like when they jumped over this girl!!

It's the landing that's scary!!!!  The ramp here heads straight down to the pavement!!
There was lots of air .... look ma, no hands!!
And even MORE air!!
Crazy right???  I can barely ride my dirt bike and these guys are doing tricks like you wouldn't believe!!  It was a pretty great show, I have to admit!!!
After stuffing my face with a corn dog (what's a county fair without a corn dog??) and a new treat ... sweet cinnamon dough baked around a wooden dowel ... take out the dowel and fill it with ice cream .... what could be better on a warm day at the fair???  Hey, it was baked so it was good for me!!!

The carnival rides were on the opposite side of the highway, accessed by a nice walk-over bridge.  
We didn't ride any of the rides, but Miss Patty was at least tall enough if she wanted to!!  What a great day!!  If you should happen upon a fair in your travels, be sure and go.  No matter how small, they are fun to experience and your dollars help the local 4-H kids have GREAT memories!!
One last picture ... I know there were a LOT!!  On the way home crossing the bridge, I spotted a wind surfer screaming along way out in the bay.  Dan slowed down, I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture.  He went across the entire bay as we drove along and Dan clocked him at about 20-25 mph ... on a board .... in the water ..... with the sharks!!!!  Or maybe not .... who knows.  It was impressive to say the least!!
No kite flying yesterday ... I spent the rest of the day going through my mail that I picked up at the UPS store.  If the winds are fair today however, you'll find me at the beach!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flying High!!!

Those of us who went to the beach yesterday were flying high, both literally and figuratively!!!  If you could use a little exercise and a LOT OF FUN, this is an easy sport you should try.  It's very portable for those RV'ers on the road and just a kick in the pants!!!  I can't thank Nick and Terry Russell enough for getting me involved.

We trekked out to the beach, laid down my big tablecloth and deposited my new kite bag full of all my gear.  Let's get flying!!!

I was worried there wouldn't be enough wind, as there wasn't even a small breeze at the campground.  The beach however, was a different story!!  Nick's little wind meter said l7-20 mph.  Perfect for my Revolution 1.5 full vented kite.  Isn't she pretty???
With the wind blowing nicely, it was a piece of cake to get her in the air.  She almost flew herself!!  In no time at all I was doing spins, stalls and landings.  No, I'm not telling you about those times I flew it straight into the ground with a  C  R  A  S  H  !!!  For my first time in "real" wind, I think I did pretty good!!!
Dan flew his Prism Snapshot like a pro ... zooming back and forth across the beach until his arms gave out.  This time I brought my little point and shoot camera, so he took these pictures for me.
Even with the vented kite, it pulled me around the beach like a feather, which I'm definitely NOT!!  Pretty soon my hands began to cramp up.  Time to take a break!!
Miss Terry didn't really feel well and decided not to fly.  After Nick flew his new Prism Micron stunt kite, which looked like a bumblebee on steroids, it was so fast, he and Terry set up his new Revolution B-Series beauty!! 
It's amazing with just a tiny flick of the wrist, these will fly aloft and soar through the sky.  It takes some concentration the first few times to be sure you don't flick your wrist the wrong way, but it's definitely learnable and FUN FUN FUN!!!
If you're susceptible to the sun, be sure and cover up, or wear lots of sunscreen because you are going to be out here for hours, actually enjoying exercise!!!  Notice the thing at the right of this image that looks like a bird??  That's a hydrofoil kite attached to a surfboard!
Nick was flying high ... or rather low in this case, trying to keep the kite in front of me for a picture.
Here's the best shot I could get with my little camera of the wind surfer out on the water.  It was amazing to see how far this guy could go in a matter of a few minutes.  He is barely visible in the bottom right hand corner.
Time flies when you're having fun and two hours went by in a flash.  Time to head back to the rigs for another great Patty Chance dinner and a load of advil for my aching arms.  The funny thing is, I can't wait to do it again!!!