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Category: Local Interest

My stay at Gold Butte Fire Watchtower

My stay at Gold Butte Fire Watchtower

Here’s a little video clip from the afternoon that turned really windy. View was very obstructed due to all the smoke from wildfires. Air quality was actually listed as hazardous – so I didn’t get out much this day.

Colonel Sanders gives Portland commencement address

Colonel Sanders gives Portland commencement address

Yes, this really did happen. George Hamilton, playing the part of the Crispy Colonel, delivered Friday’s commencement address at The Art Institute of Portland.

“Life you will take you places you have never imagined,” he told graduates. “Maybe one day you’ll be an actor, or a chicken salesman, or an actor who’s pretending to be a chicken salesman.”

Read more here:


Dirty little secret: synthetic estrogen in our fish runs

Dirty little secret: synthetic estrogen in our fish runs

Putting a link to this research paper by Canadian scientists studying fish runs after a few folks asked about it. This is one study, there are others you can also find that show how all the synthetic and estrogenic substances in our personal care products, birth control pills, anti-depressants, etc are affecting fish development.

Municipal wastewaters are a complex mixture containing estrogens
and estrogen mimics that are known to affect the reproductive
health of wild fishes. Male fishes downstream of some wastewater
outfalls produce vitellogenin (VTG) (a protein normally
synthesized by females during oocyte maturation) and early-stage
eggs in their testes, and this feminization has been attributed to
the presence of estrogenic substances such as natural estrogens
[estrone or 17-estradiol (E2)], the synthetic estrogen used in
birth-control pills [17-ethynylestradiol (EE2)], or weaker estrogen
mimics such as nonylphenol in the water.

Read more here:

Terry Davis and TempleOS

Terry Davis and TempleOS

Terry Davis is a programmer that has had a very difficult life. After a series of manic episodes, at 44 Terry is now homeless and most believe he has schizophrenia or suffering some other seriously debilitating mental disorder. He was most recently spotted on the streets here in Portland.

What’s unusual about Terry is that he wrote his own operating system: TempleOS. It’s free to download, and is written in HolyC. He even has his own youtube channel. There is even video of him debugging it while living homeless in his car in the middle of parking lots.

His life currently demonstrates the terrible state of mental health care in the United States, and the difficult reality of many homeless. They are often very intelligent, but have disorders that make them non-functional in society.

Read more about TempleOS and Terry on wikipedia.

Warning: his more recent videos have racist and inappropriate sexual language.


Oregon as a Ghibli film

Oregon as a Ghibli film

Wow – just wow!!! Amazing job Travel Oregon! Apparently the paired with Psyop who brought on an additional studio Sun Creature to assist.

Almost everything in the video is a real place/thing in Oregon. Here’s a breakdown – let me know if I missed anything, or you think I got it wrong. Click on the images for larger versions!

1. Ramona Falls:

2. Could be any lake near Mt Hood, but likely is Trillium Lake:

3. Woodburn Tulip Festival:

4. Willamette Valley:

5. Willamette Valley Wineries:

6. Willamette Valley Wine & Balloon tours:

7. Cannon Beach – Haystack rock:

8. Cannon Beach from Ecola Park:

9. Crater Lake:

10. Black Rock Mountainbiking trails near Falls City:

11. Portland:

12. Dragon Boat Racing in Portland:

11. The Wallowas – almost exactly this shot:

12. Kiger MustangsSteens Mountains/Kiger Creek:

13. Whitewater Rafting is many places, but it looks like it might be the Rogue River (top). It might also be the Deschutes (bottom pic). Some have suggested it is the White Salmon River (but that is in Washington):

14. Think this is Tom McCall Preserve (top picture). Or it might be a from Dog Mountain(bottom pic), but that is on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge:

15. Three Sister’s from around Sisters, OR:

I’ll be spending 4 days at Gold Butte fire watchtower

I’ll be spending 4 days at Gold Butte fire watchtower

Despite many adventures, my Oregon bucket list never seems to shrink. As soon as I knock an item or two off, it grows by 5 more. Last year saw horseback riding with Kiger mustangs and summitting the snow-covered Steens mountains. It also saw me hot-spring soaking and finding pianos on the playa of the Alvord Desert. This year is shaping up to knock another item off my list: staying at one of the few remaining mountaintop fire watch towers.

Due to their harsh and remote locations, fewer than 20 are left in Oregon and many are only open short portions of the year. Reservations are required, and getting a reservation is hard as they are almost always booked solid for the 6 month window of dates the moment they become available. One must diligently visit the reservation site very early every morning (east coast time no less) when dates are opened. After getting one of the rare reservations last year, I was thwarted when the road to the Lake of the Woods tower washed out and closed it for almost all of 2017 and 2018. This year, after about 2 months of on and off trying, I managed to get a 4 day reservation for the exceptional Gold Butte lookout. It’s located via hike out onto the summit of the butte and is known for having some of the most spectacular views of all the watchtowers.

It’s also a historic building. It was originally built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and usually manned by a married couple. During WW II, it was part of the Aircraft Warning System as an early invasion watchtower. In the 1970/80’s it was heavily damaged by carpenter ants. It might have been demolished like other towers if not for the efforts of the Sand Mountain Society – a fire tower preservation and restoration group. They painstakingly numbered pieces then rebuilt and replaced damaged sections exactly as it was first built, making a stay there almost exactly as it would have been in the 30’s.

Staying at one of the fire towers requires that you backpack in everything you need: water, food, and supplies. Firewood, a bed, table, fire stove, pit toilet and a few small items are provided – but there is no power, no phones, and it’s miles to your nearest neighbor. During the day you can read, hike, swim or fish at the nearby lake, or greet other hikers visiting the summit. The evenings you can watch the unbelievable sunsets and cook in the woodburning stove, then drift to sleep miles from civilization.

I’m personally looking forward to it more than my next trip abroad. I can’t wait.

Here’s a good write-up and video about the lookout

Oregon Coast Storm Surge

Oregon Coast Storm Surge

A reminder that the Oregon coast is one of the most deadly coastlines in the world.

The coast has been getting pounded by some huge waves in the last few days. 30 and even mammoth 60 foot waves have been recorded. One even crashed into a set of condos, some coastal buildings have been damaged, and at least 1 person has been swept out to sea and presumed dead at this point.

Here’s some video of the storm surge coming in. A reminder that sneaker waves and surges will toss 1000lb downed trees around like matchsticks and drag you or your car wherever they go.

Stand By Me filming locations

Stand By Me filming locations

I recently took a trip to the Steens Mountains and Alvord Desert in the extreme southeast corner Oregon for a week. On my way, I took a little side trip and stopped by Brownsville, OR. The reason I stopped? Major scenes of the movie Stand By Me were filmed there.

Despite the movie being 31 years old, this movie is an icon of my childhood. It hearkened me back to a time when I wasn’t absorbed in digital entertainment and still had adventures in real life with real friends with real tree forts and camping adventures.

The city still has a majority of the locations easily spotted right on the main drag. The town is very tiny – only 1 or 2 main streets really and a central core that’s about 1000 feet square. Spotting all the sites can be done in just a small 20 minute stroll. Seeing all the sites in town can easily be done in a couple of hours (depending on how long you want to stroll around).

Here’s a really good guide if you’re planning on making a trip.