Archive for the 'USA' Category

Mount St. Helens

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I wanted to get up to Mount St. Helens this year since it’s the 30th anniversary of the eruption and I haven’t been up there in at least 15. I thought we had missed our chance, but we had a few beautiful days this week so we made the trip.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory was closed for the season and the place was mostly deserted. The wind blasted us with grit as we peeked over the edge and I could barely hold the camera still enough to get a picture. Ronin enjoyed our stories about the mountain exploding, but hated being out in the wind.

[Coldwater Lake]

[Sliver Lake]

On the way out we stopped at Silver Lake to hunt for giant maple leaves and mushrooms. There were many but mostly not the mushrooms we wanted. I did find one large lobster.

The South

Monday, October 19th, 2009

The sign says it all. Needless to say, we did not eat here and our gastrointestinal systems were the better for it.

There are a lot of things wrong with this image. First off, may I state the obvious: biscuits, actually, do not have holes. Not even southern biscuits. Also, The South does indeed have doughnuts so this isn’t just a foreigner’s misunderstanding, like “biscuit” means cookie in Great Britain. I imagine that the marketing team was trying to come up with a new and exciting desert item, something to draw in the crowds.

“Doughnut holes!” said apple-cheeked Jr. marketing intern Billy. Of course, this enthusiastic outburst would be cut down by more senior members of the team, perhaps citing Hardee’s dedication to healthy, satisfying, alternative fare, not to mention, Dunkin Donuts and McFatso’s already offer doughnut holes on their menus. Hardee’s would need something new, something groundbreaking. A lively discussion might ensue about what healthy fare really was and if it was in fact what the average Hardees customer really wanted deep down inside (answer: eh, probably not). In the end, it was decided that bite-sized biscuits might fit the bill. Sweet ones! Or perhaps rolled in sugar and cinnamon, kinda like doughnuts, but totally not. And although it was unanimously decided that glazed sugar-rolled little biscuits would be even more delicious, perhaps a tub of icing on the side would be more exciting, and you know, healthier. After all, Americans love to feel they have choices. A deconstructed doughnut, if you will. The marketing team was pleased with the brainstorming session. Now all they needed was a catchy name. “Biscuit holes!” shouted Billy, thereby guaranteeing him a permanent position at the Hardee’s marketing headquarters and bringing forth a confounding epidemic of doughnut-shaped biscuits across the southern US.

People in the south are remarkably friendly but I sometimes wonder if there isn’t an underlying hint of passive aggression. Case in point:

Piggly Wiggly! We asked for english muffins and nobody in the store had any idea what we were talking about. The bagger lady wanted to know where we were from and seemed shocked when I said Oregon. I am guessing she had someplace more exotic in mind, Iceland maybe.

Anyway, we’re back home in Iceland now, basking in the rain and the overcast. Ronin was beside herself with joy upon seeing all her toys again but now she’s totally bored of them already. It may be a long winter.

Tennessee River

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Gipsea, Tucker’s trawler is a little 30-foot thing but has about 50 times the interior volume of the Time Machine. Not only is there standing head room in all parts of the boat, there is refrigeration, a proper marine head, hot water, a SHOWER… It’s mind boggling really to take a hot shower on the boat. It is a great little boat. It is, however, a diesel boat that moves by way of a large noisy motor. When we shut the motor off for the day after anchoring, I always feel my body relax, unaware that I had been sort of tense the whole time the motor was on. I don’t know if it’s because of the noise or just because motoring on the Time Machine was often under duress and it always stressed me out a little to run the thing.

Ronin is handling the boat life well. We go to shore every day at least and give her some time to run around on the beach and she loves that. This is not ocean sailing by any stretch and the water is flat calm always, with the exception of wakes. She hasn’t even had to adapt to a rolling motion. We did get into a large lake right as some thunderstorms blew through. A captain of a tug going the opposite direction on the river told us, “it’s rougher than a cob there in the bay,” and frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had some chop and whitecaps and the radio mentioned tornado warnings (!!) but we found a little inlet to anchor up in and we waited out the storm drinking coffee spiked with rum. Now we are in the Tenn-Tom waterway in northern Mississippi, heading south. It’s very narrow but sort of boring; once we hook up with the Tombigbee river, it will get interesting again.

It was rainy and cool for the first few days after we arrived but it cleared up on the third day. Naturally, I bemoan the lack of beautiful weather but then gripe about having to wear sunscreen when the sun actually comes out. I am hard to please. It’s back to being rainy and overcast and today is actually rather cold. We’re heading steadily south though so presumably it should warm up again and I can bitch about something new.

Ronin napping in the V-berth; I block the edge of the bed with suitcases so she doesn’t roll off. I’ve tried desperately (in vain, probably) to keep her on Oregon time but I think Ronin runs on a 23.5-hour clock. She always wants to get up earlier and nap/go to bed earlier. Lately, she has been getting up at 6am before it is even light outside, demanding juice, bunny grahams, and her table (a little teak folding table that serves as her activity headquarters here on the boat) before calming down, accepting her nap back, and settling down to sleep a little more. Of course, she refuses to go back down on her own bed and instead, insists upon wedging herself up into my armpit. She usually goes back to sleep for another hour or so but I don’t usually get much more sleep. I don’t know if this is a bad precedent to make; she has never before slept with us. She never liked to cuddle and could never lie still, preferring instead to roll around and kick me in the boobs.

Much of our time underway is spent upstairs in the pilot house, which has a fully-enclosed little room and the best view on the boat. We wrapped the rails of the back deck with rope to create something of a net but it’s less stressful if she stays inside the enclosure.

She likes to sit up on the counter in the pilot house and try to push buttons when we’re not looking.

Nigel likes to be wherever Ronin is.

A particularly awesome anchorage. We got ashore just as the sun was setting behind the trees and everything was a beautiful golden color.

Cypress tree.

Arizona Nature

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

reflecting pool, palo verde tree, ocotillo

I’m just now getting around to looking at the pictures from the Arizona trip last month. Lots of flowers, bugs, birds, and lizards.

blooming palo verde tree

Palo Verde

sacred datura flower close up

sacred datura flower landscape

Sacred Datura

blooming saguaro cactus

blooming saguaro cactus


male broad-billed hummingbird

Male Broad-billed hummingbird (see also the in flight picture from a couple years ago)

ornate tree lizard

Ornate Tree Lizard

Laurel Sphinx

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Mt. Pisgah, Maine

A quick google search leads me to identify this caterpillar as a Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar (Sphinx kalmiae). She wishes you a happy thanksgiving.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell