Where Was Boolie?

Rick Cameron appears to be fading in front of a large redwood tree

Some say he was in the redwoods. Others say he was only there in spirit. His car was definitely there, but some say he was testing a new self-driving car feature for Subaru, where your car goes on fun vacations and sends back pictures while you stay home and work.

A white Subaru XV Crosstrek is parked in front of a redwood forest

The Rain Adjacent Forest

For my trip to the Olympic peninsula this spring, more than anything I wanted to visit the Hoh Rain Forest when it was raining, which you wouldn’t think would be too hard given that it is an actual rain forest. But for me the Hoh has always been the Hoh Rain Adjacent Forest, as I’ve gotten drenched in many parts of the park but the rain always stopped before I reached the Hoh. This time I waited until rain was predicted for the weekend, made my reservations, loaded up the Subaru and set off.

There was no rain as I drove into Washington but not long after I pointed the car towards the peninsula the heavens opened and it poured. By the time I reached the Quinault Rain Forest the rain had lessened but I was pleased to see I would get rain in this rain forest at the very least. As I put on my rain pants and walked to the trailhead, the rain stopped literally as I stepped onto the trail. Did Mother Nature think I was amused? In truth I was, wondering if I’d get rain the next day or if the Hoh was to be my Wet Whale.

I had been drenched in the Quinault before so the suddenly dry skies weren’t too much of a disappointment and I started up the Maple Glade Loop Trail and the Kestner Homestead Trail, stopping at the homestead to photograph this dilapidated old moving van with trees growing inside, an old favorite from a previous visit. They keep the area around the truck mowed but are letting nature reclaim the truck. Ashes to ashes, dust to rust.

A dilapidated old moving truck has trees growing inside it at the Kestner Homestead in Olympic National Park

As I photographed the truck I was caught off guard when the rain began pounding down once more. I took a few more pictures before retreating to a covered picnic area. The large drops made a racket as they pelted the corrugated metal roof and then somehow it rained even harder. As I admired the rain I realized I was laughing out loud, not with a chuckle, but a good loud belly laugh. I immediately stopped and looked self-consciously around but there was no one else around, apparently not everyone loves the rain.

I ventured out for a few more pictures but suddenly realized my biggest mistake in my desire to pack lightly, as I hadn’t brought a backup camera or lens. The camera is weather sealed but the lens isn’t and makes them both vulnerable where they connect. So mostly I just stood there and reveled in the rain, soaking it in in case tomorrow dawned dry.

The next morning I drove to the Hoh, knowing the weather was going to improve throughout the weekend, if improve means more and more sun, so I wasn’t sure if I’d finally get my rain. As I drove towards the park in a heavy overcast, the sun suddenly appeared and I said out loud, “You are not welcome here!” It quickly disappeared behind the clouds and, a bit surprised and a little terrified at my sudden powers, I continued on to the trailhead as a gentle rain began to fall.

At long last, rain in the Hoh.

My camera and lens inside a Tom Bihn Stuff Sack to keep them dry during a rainy hike in the Hoh Rain Forest

I used one of my Tom Bihn Stuff Sacks to cover the camera and lens while hiking, and when taking pictures the material is pliant enough that I could lay the bag over the top of the camera and keep rain from hitting the lens. The outside of the bag was damp from the rain, but it was drops of rain I was worried about. That worked fine and kept the gear dry both days it rained.

One of the Hoh trails was closed, a bit of a shame as it was one where I wanted to photograph moss, so instead I spent the afternoon hiking to Sol Duc Falls in the rain. The next morning the sun rose and never yielded, but I had fun visiting a few beaches, two of which I had never been to before, and headed back to Portland. I got home in time to take Ellie for her walk, always one of my favorite parts of the day. As I walked to the train station the next morning to go back to work, still reveling in three days of hiking in such a beautiful place, I couldn’t help but reflect on the many blessings in my life.

My camera and lens covered by a Tom Bihn Stuff Sack to keep them dry during a rainy hike in the Hoh Rain Forest

The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

One of my favorite places I pass with Ellie on our walks is the Wishing Tree, where a resident has placed tags for passers-by to write their hopes and dreams.

Some are wistful.

“I wish that I could live here so I could see my daughter every day!”

Some are whimsical.

“For some really fun first dates, followed by no ‘first dates’ ever again!”

Some are practical.

“I wish for smaller class sizes. 30 kindergartners? C’mon people!”

Some are altruistic.

“I wish for life to be happy for everyone.”

Some are heartwarming.

“I wish for the strength and willingness to keep opening my heart.”

Some are heartbreaking.

“I wish that Susan’s daughter will be healthy soon & her tumors will be removed safely.”

There are so many things I am thankful for in my life, and each day I am reminded of two of them: our wonderful dog, and the neighborhood I get to walk her in.

Wishes on the Wishing Tree

Door of Hope

The Door of Hope, a church in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland

The Door of Hope is a neighborhood church at the edge of Irving Park that Ellie and I sometimes pass on our walks (we used to go by it every time but our aging pup isn’t usually up for that long of a walk these days, especially in the heat of summer). I had taken my mirrorless camera with me that morning just to grab some snapshots on our walk, but with no image stabilization and an eager dog on the end of the leash, some of the pictures came out rather blurred. I could train Ellie to sit still while I’m taking pictures, but I don’t think I’ll ever try for serious pictures while we’re on our walks as I very much enjoy being in the moment with her.

This church wasn’t being used when we moved to the neighborhood over a decade ago and was slowly decaying until another church purchased it and renovated it and brought it back to life. When I took the picture I realized the original cornerstone was in between the two welcoming doors, reading something like Deutsche Congregationale Zion Kirche, which in English is Zion German Congregational Church (there’s a great picture of the original church there, with the congregation gathered outside for the photo, with a few people looking out from the windows and unfortunately a few people who were spread too far out and got cut out at the edges of the photo).

The church was founded in 1914 by the Volga Germans and has had a long history as the congregation, and the neighborhood around it, has changed. Prior to the church being built our little section of the neighborhood was a horse race track, a fact pointed out to me by a co-worker when I mentioned that when digging in the yard I kept finding these really old square nails, which he recognized as the nails used in horseshoes.

Exit Through the Cherry Blossoms

Commuters exit a subway line in Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 10 years since my visit to Japan. The cherry trees were about to bloom while I was there on a business trip, kicking off the festivals, but I missed the main bloom by a tantalizing few days. I was afraid that these blossoms in Shinagawa Station would be the only blossoms I saw, but I did get a chance right before I left to see a few trees that had bloomed early.

An Oregon Duck

An Oregon Duck

Portland has an assortment of animal statues scattered about downtown and this past Christmas season many were decked out in Christmas sweaters. Even the little duck statues got in on the action, I suspect whoever knitted this outfit is as much a fan of the Oregon Ducks as Oregon’s ducks.

Home & Away

Home & Away

I’ve thought about photographing this sign many times while walking Ellie past the baseball field to the dog park, but never have. I was struck by how lovely the park looked on a foggy winter night but the camera was at home, so after we finished our walk Ellie settled in on the couch while I grabbed my camera and headed back out.

I’m Dreaming of a White 3 Days Before Christmas

Our snow-covered house in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon after a winter storm in December 2008

Our winter wonderland continued into today although the snow finally tapered off this afternoon, the official snow total so far for the month of December is 14″. I took this picture shortly before shoveling the steps and sidewalk yet again and, for the first time, the shoveled parts were still clear by the end of the day. Tomorrow is supposed to be cold but cloudy so things shouldn’t get any worse, with Christmas Eve on Wednesday a possibility of rain or snow or both, so there’s a good chance we’ll have a white Christmas.

I had thoughts about walking down to the Rose Garden for pictures of the city in the snow but then I realized just how much snow and ice was weighing heavily on the roof of our back porch and storage shed, so I hauled out the ladder and got as much off as I could. Maybe I’ll head down tomorrow and ride the MAX into downtown.

All things considered I’ve really enjoyed the snow. I’ve been off work anyway so I didn’t have to worry about commuting in this mess, although it also means I haven’t been able to go hiking during my time off. We’ve not lost power or had any damage (knock on wood) and the blanket of snow is lovely. We’ve had many people skiing down the street or dragging their kids on sleds, and I had a chance to play a bit with the neighbors in the deep snow.

Ridgefield will just have to get by without me until the weekend when things warm up again. I’m sure there are many great photo opportunities of wildlife in the snow that I’m missing, and probably a yeti or two, but I don’t want to risk it until the roads are better.

Holding Back The Sea

A man exercises at dawn on Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon

One of my favorite images but I can’t explain exactly why. It’s not my typical subject matter, my typical angle, or my typical lens.

Life on Oregon’s coast is generally pretty peaceful and quiet, but the dawn especially so. It was a cool spring morning, the sun not yet risen, and little could be heard apart from the waves on the shore. As I looked out of my hotel window, a handful of people were out on the beach, exercising, walking their dogs, or just enjoying the beauty of the coast.

As I soaked in the tranquility of the morning, I wanted to stay in the moment, but the sun always rises.