22. Managing Yosemite

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

Sometimes it can be difficult to avoid renting a car. This is particularly true in California, the birthplace of the freeway traffic jam. It is ironic that one cannot access the natural splendors of the American West without driving a carbon-spouting fossil fuel guzzler through a few hundred miles of former natural splendor on ribbons of asphalt surrounded by fields of shopping malls.

It is no secret that I am not fond of driving. It goes back to a genuine and deep-rooted hatred of cars, which I consider to be the foremost culprit in the demise of civilization. Despite this, my first job in Australia was with a company that serviced automotive manufacturers – mostly Ford. What can I say? I needed a job.

After two years, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and quit. The CFO called me from Detroit to talk me out of it. I gave him all the usual “It’s not you, it’s me” reasons. He chewed up and spit back every excuse. Finally I said “Listen Fred, the truth is, I don’t like cars. I don’t like people who like cars. I’m not even very fond of people who like people who like cars.”

“Oh” said Fred. There was a pregnant pause. “Maybe its best that you quit then.” Continue reading 22. Managing Yosemite

21. Amtrak’s Jewel

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight runs from Seattle to LA, but today we were boarding in Portland bound for Sacramento, of all places. I have taken this overnight train before. It is arguably Amtrak’s best train, not only for its spectacular scenery, but for its Pacific Parlour car.

The Pacific Parlour car is the jewel in Amtrak’s daggy crown.  It offers sleeper-car passengers a comfortable lounge and decent dining. Onboard, they undersell the parlor car menu offerings as “lighter fare” than that offered in the main dining car, which might dissuade one from making that special (free) reservation to dine in the parlour car. Do not be fooled! Continue reading 21. Amtrak’s Jewel

20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

On the first Saturday of August the good people of Portland gather at the river for a celebration. The event’s climax is a competition of brave men and women that launch themselves off a stage in homemade flying contraptions powered only by goodwill.  The law of gravity being what it is, each brief flight ends with a spectacular crash into the river. It is a very popular event.IMG_1715

So popular that tens of thousands of Common Folk gather hours in advance on the banks of the river and on the nearby bridges, hoping to assure themselves a good view. IMG_1710All morning the Common Folk waited and ate and drank and sweat in the blazing sun, discussing grandpa’s hernia operation and Aunt Annie’s new husband (she could have done better), while picking their favourite for the upcoming contest. Continue reading 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice

19. The Curse of Portland

  1. 01. Minutes of the COCKUP
  2. 02. A Public Service
  3. 03. The 22% Solution
  4. 04. On The Campaign Trail
  5. 05. Athens of America
  6. 06. A Yankee’s Yankee
  7. 07. My Canadian Family
  8. 08. Edmonton? Why?
  9. 09. Prairie Singers
  10. 10. Deconstructing Calgary
  11. 11. My Kelowna
  12. 12. Wine Whine
  13. 13. Fire Mountain
  14. 14. A Stopover and a Popover
  15. 15. Inspiring Victoria
  16. 16. Planet Rosehip
  17. 17. Carry On Grunge
  18. 18. Street People
  19. 19. The Curse of Portland
  20. 20. Mean-Spirited, Powerful Justice
  21. 21. Amtrak’s Jewel
  22. 22. Managing Yosemite
  23. 23. Yumpin’ Yosemite
  24. 24. Parched
  25. 25. Brave New San Fran
  26. 26. Over The Hill
  27. 27. Greatest Again

There’s too much cursing in this world, and I am part of the problem. For me, cursing is the natural by-product of trying to accomplish something or get somewhere. I’m always trying to get somewhere, and thus tend to travel in a blue streak.

One of these days I need to calculate how much of my life’s cursing has been:

A.  As a pedestrian cursing at motorists and cyclists;

B.  As a cyclist cursing at motorists and pedestrians;

C. As a motorist cursing at cyclists, pedestrians, and, well, pretty much everything.

Offhand, I’d guess my cussing volume, from most to least, would be  C, B, A, — even though I’ve spent more time as a pedestrian than as a cyclist, and more time on a bicycle than driving a car. Maybe my propensity to swear is proportional to my desired speed of travel. Continue reading 19. The Curse of Portland