I was in downtown Portland for a wildlife conference and training workshop for a couple days this week. Such a weird city, especially the Old Town area. Kind of great though. Eccentrics, by choice or not, everywhere. I can see the draw of living in a place where no matter how weird you are or what your issues, there’s someone stranger than you around the corner.
Blue hair, pompadours, dreads, tattoos, and spectacular beards. Ubiquitous homeless sprawled out in doorways and crowded along the riverfront. Lots of guys playing guitars and singing/wailing on street corners. More cigarette smoke than I’ve smelled anywhere recently. Kind of third world bus station mixed with a shiny, hipster polish. People seem friendly, but you’re also not quite sure if they might shove you in front of an oncoming streetcar.
Here are a few photos. These first few are from my drive down from Yakima. Wind farm above the Columbia River where I did bird surveys back in 2009. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, looking across at the WA side – the Oregon side is lined with waterfalls. And Mt Hood in the distance at sunset.
Downtown Portland at night. Packed Apple store – there was a Microsoft store just down the street that just had three bored looking employees inside. Lots of public transport options and easy pedestrian/bike access.
Downtown Portland at noon. Voodoo Doughnut, famous for weird flavor combos (maple bacon). Weird Portland. Smorgasbord of food trucks choices and my lunch selection, $6 chicken shawarma.
I took the Oregon opportunity to swing by Bob’s Red Mill to pick up 50 pounds of my favorite muesli. Sure, it may come packaged like a big bag of dog food, but think of the savings!
And finally, Portland skyline with what I presume is a much more typical cloud cover than my first two days of full sun. I somehow managed to take that last photo in between the hordes of determined-faced runners and bikers along the waterfront.
A few projects from last weekend. Transplanted a couple viburnum plants to the front landscaping. Should fill in the space a lot better – dogs for scale.
Finally got around to putting in the last window that I had sitting in the garage over the winter. Maybe “winter” isn’t the right word as you can see by the open sash. Upstairs bedroom, went in pretty quickly with most of time spent caulking and painting. Also rebuilt the deck stairs. The old stairs were wobbly and had a little bit of ground-contact rotting at the bottom step. This new setup is nicely cemented in place. Still need to add a hand railing.
In the stair photo, you can also see a new basement window and window well that I put in last fall. That entire side of the house has had a makeover. Depending on motivation, I might add a another patio walkway here too from the front of the house to the back deck.
Well, not “new” new, but new to us at least. Mary and I went down to the YMCA this morning to play basketball and then swung by Lowe’s on the way home. Lowe’s just happens to be across the street from the main Toyota dealer in town and as we were driving past I noticed this truck out of the corner of my eye and thought I saw a price of $15,000 marked down to something.
“Hang on, that seems pretty cheap. I just want to swing back and check that out a minute.” I don’t ever see Tacomas for less than $20k around here. So we flipped around and pulled into the lot. The price was marked $13,000, but I couldn’t see the mileage with the vehicle off. As I had my hands cupped against the window to see inside, a sale man walked over, popped the key out of lock box, and asked if I wanted to check it out.
2008 Toyota Tacoma with 78,500 miles. Regular cab, four-cylinder, not four-wheel drive. 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway. Pretty much the exact vehicle (lowish mileage Toyota) I’ve been wanting for a while as a possible work vehicle (I don’t have any use for four-wheel drive or a V6 engine and would rather have the mileage and a lower sticker price). No frills at all, which I love – Mary’s joked with the sales guy that the hand crank windows sold me on the truck. Only thing I would’ve liked even better would’ve been the style from a couple years earlier when the Tacoma was more of a compact truck than a mid-size.
So we took it for a short test drive and Googled the fair market value while we were out driving around. Most sites were coming in around $10,500 for a dealer price. Back at the dealership the salesman pulled a Kelly Blue Book price of $11,400 based on the accessories and also showed us a Car Fax history. I offered $10,500 and after a little back and forth eventually settled at $10,900. Expensive impulse buy! I’m sure we could’ve haggled for less or started at more of a low-ball offer, but I walked out of there happy to pay what we did for a vehicle I really liked that I never see available.
So here it is; it’ll probably never be this clean again:
Low-60s today, loving it!
I spent most of the morning in a car driving up north toward Twisp, WA after getting a report of a USFS wolverine trap signal going off last night (part of a North Cascades study). I’m working on wolverine surveys in the Central Cascades this winter, but not trapping. We’re hoping to do trapping next winter though, so any opportunity to be a part of, or at least see in person, the capture and handling would be really valuable (and fun). En route though we received word that the trap was empty (probably a pine marten slipping away). Bummer, but it meant I got back to Yakima at a reasonable time to enjoy the day.
Well, we still have only had that one day of snow I posted about a couple weeks ago. Easy winter. Our crocuses are six inches high already. Maybe I should plant the garden. I had the house windows open all afternoon today.
It’s been a dreary couple of weeks before today though with a bunch of inversion days and a few rainy days. Inversions are when cooler air in the valleys gets trapped/capped by warmer air above. Usually accompanied by heavy fog. It happens every winter here for a couple weeks (common in Salt Lake City too). Yakima will be in the 30s and overcast and the skiers up in the mountains will be in t-shirts and sunshine.
Here’s an example what it looks like from above (photo taken from my usual drive to field work):
And what it looks like driving into it. I guess the nice part about a valley inversion versus a big regional winter storm system is that you can drive twenty minutes down the road if the gloom gets to be too much. And look, $1.65 gas!