Some Special Place

A few years ago we were driving through campsites on the coast looking for future places to camp. We passed through the Sutton Creek campsite but most of it was closed, the campsite was pretty standard fare with a fire ring and trees for shade but it backed up to a creek that meandered through the dunes to the coast, the landscape called out to be explored. We were all going to go and do this but over the years the usual things got in the way as they usually do, this weekend however Michelle had her thing at the beach with her friends, the two older boys could not be convinced to come but Ben was excited and Ziggy is up for anything anytime so we set out for the coast hoping to get a site at this now legendary, in my mind at least, place.

The drive was the usual three hours or so to the central coast. We were mingled in with the ATV’s on the way to Florence to perform daring deeds on the dunes, our mission was a little quieter though. Initially there was some concern we would not get a site at our chosen campground as they all appeared full. Eventually however we managed to get ourselves situated and only had to move once to a sunnier spot.

The plan on Friday was to just get settled and go for a short hike to see what was around. We found an old rope swing and Ben had a good time playing Tarzan, although in his normal cautious way he was worried that he would not be able to support his own weight, of course he could and once he had some confidence was swinging like a champ. The a walk with Ziggy, dinner and bed after important supplies like popcorn and ‘smores makings were bought. Popcorn was made on the fire and we settled down after a successful day.

Saturday turned out to be one of those days you seem to only get at the coast. The weather was beautiful, a clear sunny day. Ben insisted that we drive with the top down on the jeep. This was a little concerning for Ziggy who seemed intimidated by the whole process. But on to the big adventure fording creeks and discovery. First we went downstream. Ziggy was alright with the relatively shallow                               water this way. He was extra alright with soccer on the beach once we had crossed the raging torrent and hiked through the sand dunes to the ocean. He really will do anything for a ball that dog.

As I discovered in England with Tom spending time with each of my three boys alone is very special. They truly are wonderful intelligent, caring and compassionate boys. I am very proud of all of them.

Of course once you have gone downstream you have to go back upstream. It’s inevitable as is falling in it seems when you are twelve. Of course this is also a time to discover that the dog is afraid of water that goes up to his chest. Ben must have hiked the best part of two miles up the creek trying to find the way  back to our campsite. Eventually we had to turn around and head back because it was getting harder for Ziggy to walk on the banks as they became more overgrown and he doesn’t seem to know how to doggy paddle. Back at camp food was eaten and a fire was made. This was more successful a conflagration than the night before.  Ben noticed the waffle iron, so of course we had to go get waffle mix for the morning and then a game of Uno at which Ben soundly thrashed me.

Breakfast was awesome,nothing like waffles made on an open fire. OK we cheated it was premade waffle mix but they were good. The dog even managed to get the leftovers as we had not brought enough dog food.

All that was left was to pack up and get ready to head off home, Ben decided we should drive north though as he did not ever remember driving north. So we headed for the Tillamook Cheese Factory for cheese curds and ice cream, not in the same bowl of course.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend with much fun and it was definitely a special time with a truly wonderful and special boy. I am however sure Ben was cheating at Uno though as it seems unlikely he should win three games in a row. Ziggy was well and truly tired by the end and slept most of the way home in the car.

20th Century Man

Sunday was the long awaited Ray Davies show.  We all went, it was required course work in the family musical education. The three boys in the family have been exposed to Ray Davies and the Kinks for their entire lives. Poor Michelle has also had to suffer this slight obsession, I don’t think that there has been a day that the music of Ray Davies has not been played in here. Only the Beatles may come close.

The breadth of Ray Davies songwriting is astounding, from tender love songs to punk rock rants of social commentary he covers it all. He can rock with the best and make you cry at the same time. He is obviously a contemporary of the Beatles and the Stones but has a totally unique Englishness to his writing, he does not Americanize his accent unless it is to make a point. The majority of his songs seem to cover the concerns of the working classes, you can’t avoid class when listening to Davies, and the sense of loss of culture the English sometimes experience.

Back to the show, it was an astounding display of Ray Davies’ ability as a front-man and songwriter. His voice has never really been a big rock voice so it seems to have stood up better than some of his contemporaries. He can still express the anger of 20th Century Man, the disenfranchisement and confrontational quality of I’m Not Like Everybody  Else and the tenderness of Waterloo Sunset.  He looked totally comfortable on stage and gratified that the audience seemed to know every word he was going to sing, although there was anger in the songs the show was an affirmation of Davies and his talent as well as a confirmation of his place as in my opinion as one of the most important songwriters of the last century and this. Davies hit all the hot spots of his career, some of the less obvious choices too. He was able to leave out Lola and The Village Green Preservation Society and still satisfy the audience with his choices. It was amazing that you could see this man in a theater that has a 620 capacity, of course it has always astounded me that Ray Davies still remains as obscure as he is and yet ask people and they will know many Kinks songs not just one.

July 15th was declared Ray Davies day in Portland, although the mayor seems to be going for a day for everything, we didn’t find out about this until after but I hope Ray had a great day, he definitely deserves it.

Children of the Revolution

Reading, I finished Snow Crash. It is a good book, although I’m confused why it ended the way it did. I’m not going to spoil the story as it is so good but why after such a roller coaster ride did Stephenson end the joy-ride so abruptly? Stephenson created with this book a truly unique look at the future, franchised corporate states with the US government reduced to piece work programming for a crazy preacher and the mafia being the most ethical force around.

It’s a book full of humor and fun, let’s face it the main character is called Hiro Protagonist. It’s a sardonic take on the cyberpunk genre without overdoing it. There are some interesting and engaging characters and the ultimate in bad boy villain with Raven and YT the ultimate take on skater girl. As with any Neal Stephenson book it’s jam packed with ideas that you have to remember the age of the book to appreciate. One of the challenges for science fiction authors in the modern age has to be how fast technology moves today. What may have been a cutting edge idea at conception could be old hat by the time the book is published.

The joy of this book is evident form page one, which may be one of the best introductions of any new character. It’s also unusual for Stephenson not too long a book, he has taken to stretching his books to 1000 plus pages recently so Snow Crash’ modest size makes it manageable.

The to be read pile is growing exponentially it seems, this week I finally opened Icerigger by Alan dean Foster and it has got off to a good fast paced beginning. Foster is one of those authors who has written so many books it is hard to know where to begin. He has done more movie novelizations than any author  think. I do however have good memories of Icerigger from my teen years so it will be good to see if it lives up to the memory.

Children of the Sun

Well more vegetative moments.

There are Triffids in our garden, they are waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting passerby. There is one quite spectacular specimen. He is masquerading as an onion but I know if I am suddenly struck blind by a passing comet he will pounce with his poisonous whip and I will become fertilizer.

There really is no hope the end is nigh and we shall all become mulch for the greater vegetable masses. So what was supposed to be an addendum to my salad is now a dangerous beast lurking amongst the benign onions.

The real reasons of course is the bizarre fluctuations of temperature that we have had, my poor onion thinks he has been in the ground for two years and it’s time to flower. He is confused, fearful and ready to blossom, this is a perfect storm of impatience, I fear he may injure the dog.



Captain’s Log

Well Seattle is a strange city, larger than Portland and busier but it also seems to be trying just a little bit too hard to be noticed. Yes Jimi Hendrix is from Seattle but left as soon as he could without really looking back, yes Nirvana are from Seattle but their re-branding 70’s heavy metal as grunge was never really very convincing and let’s face it Pikes Place Market is just a fish market that got too big for it’s own good, there are so many people there you cannot throw the fish anymore you may damage a tourist. Of course this is true of any city that suddenly realizes it has something to market, in Portland Voodoo Donuts, the Saturday Market and the annoying “Keep Portland Weird” stickers give me the same feeling of a city trying just a little too much.

That being said Seattle is a fun city, that unlike other city’s seems to have embraced the idea of being a tourist destination. The people may think they are too cool for tourism but whoever is in charge has leaped wholeheartedly in with both feet.

I saw a sign that said science fiction museum and then we were destined to go. It was part of the Experience Music Project which it seem is trying to reimagine itself as a museum of poplar culture. Not a bad idea really. In the basement was a science fiction exhibit which relied obviously more on television and cinema but also had some nice references to books, especially promoting the idea that science fiction is an art form that promotes thinking about the future creatively. What fan would not be excited to stand next to the captains chair, or come face to fish-eye lens with a Dalek? It’s very exciting in a geeky way to be so close to these iconic props. I did want to break the glass and take a seat though and run screaming from the whisk and toilet plunger toting Dalek.

We all spent the morning marveling at the science fiction wonders in the basement, Robbie the Robot was upstairs, but the basement had the Alien creature, Superman’s long underwear and a green screen were you could act out your own creature feature. Who wouldn’t be excited to see themselves chased by the miniature Godzilla on a stick? The Alien is as imposing close up as it is on the big screen.

Of course there is the music section of the museum which obviously adulates Jimi, Kurt and strangely enough ACDC.

One of the most imposing sights is the tornado of guitars in the center of the museum. You can also listen to some of them that have been rigged to play. Also upstairs are practice rooms and teaching aids so you can live out your rock’n’roll fantasy in real time, plenty of green screen to rock out with Angus and the boys. Of course you can also buy your own CD of your version of whichever song you choose to record.

So a great weekend of Egyptians and science fiction, and to tie it all together the Helmet of Teal’c from Stargate which managed to distort and mix up Egyptian mythology with science fiction, kind of like Nirvana with heavy metal and punk, so it must be Seattle the city of blends.

Fable of a Failed Race

So we took off to Seattle in the jeep and surprisingly the ride was a lot better than I thought it would be, of course it’s louder than a car but what the heck. The main purpose of the journey was the King Tut exhibit. After this last show in Seattle it is returning to Egypt never to leave. Which is only right after that countries natural treasures have been consistently plundered over the years. I had to think about how we would feel with the declaration of independence or the crown jewels being in another country.
The exhibit was astounding and Ben was pretty much in awe the whole way around. It is hard to imagine the way life was for normal people when all you have is the glimpse into the aristocracy.




Of course there was the obligatory ride on the duck with much blowing of quackery, this was very hard for me as shy retiring sort but I have to admit driving around Seattle in a large loud amphibious vehicle was fun and you get to go on the lake and see the house boats.

Oh I forgot about the butterflies, the butterfly garden at the pacific science museum was one of my favorite experiences . The quiet grace of butterflies has always been fascinating and I couldn’t help but think of the Robert Silververg book Nightwings.