Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell from the summit

The street sign says it all. This is my last post on Bend, Oregon, Daily Photo until my return on April 17th, 2010. Tapirgal of Astoria Daily Photo encouraged me to smile and to invite all of you to follow me on my new blog, Lee's Amizade Adventure. My flight from Portland, Oregon, on Sunday morning, January 3rd has a long layover in Miami, during which I intend to post my first impressions of the trip before departing for Brazil. Until then, have a blissful, photo-filled Happy New Year and thanks as always for your kind words and support.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting Ready

On a cool, sunny afternoon several weeks ago in Bend, Oregon, I hiked along this quiet trail near Shevlin Park, and reflected on my upcoming volunteer Amizade adventure. Although I have no recollection of any of the particular thoughts I had as I ascended this slight grade, I have no problem sharing that little else has dominated my thoughts over the past months than the details and personal ramifications of this journey.

In less than one week from today, I will start the first leg of a four-month trip which will take me to five different continents, where I will necessarily and directly be immersed in the complexities of vastly different cultures. I have already mentioned that, on the surface, my role is to work as a volunteer on widely diverse humanitarian projects, photograph and write about them and provide useful information for future volunteers. To express this goal in words is easy, but to actually lay the groundwork to pull it off is a stress-filled challenge. The travel preparations, including transportation and lodging, have been daunting. Likewise, it has been no easy task to settle affairs at home to accommodate a protracted absence. There have been challenges predicated by my choice to travel light with only a backpack and a carry-on as to choice of clothing and equipment. Notwithstanding, I have had to consider health issues and have undergone lots of tests, some of which have increased my level of anxiety rather than mollifying me. Last of all, I have had to struggle with an internal battle concerning my separation from loved ones and the effect it will have on my relationship with them. I rationalize that in the scheme of things this trip is only for a short time, and that I'll be back soon, but the reality is that the perils I am about to encounter are numerous and that, as it is often wryly thought at these moments, you never know the last time you say good-bye.

In any case, on Sunday, January 3rd, I leave first for Brazil, with a layover in Rio de Janeiro before heading to the Amazon river town of Santarem. I am excited to share my adventure with you. Yet this blog is so much more than a daily post of pretty pictures and words. It is a lifeline to the world to which I belong. It is a conduit to the people I love. Without it, I am simply alone, the proverbial rolling stone tossed by fickle current down to the sea.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

along the trail

Although there is no snow on the ground today in Bend, Oregon, it takes only a short drive West toward the mountains to find a Winter paradise. On this forest trail, closed to cars for the season, the public can spend carefree hours walking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. There are those of you who follow this blog who see nothing glamorous in having cold toes, ears and nose, and who also define good exercise as rolling from back to stomach on a chaise lounge under a gentle tropical sun. To you, outdoor cold weather activities probably has little appeal. Such ventures are not for everybody. Notwithstanding, in the above picture, the hardy gang decked out in fleece and gortex, march forward joyously and rhythmically, December's snowsong drummed by their boots. As they pass, they acknowledge intuitively that the camera-toting stranger in similar uniform is an ally, and like themselves, a lover of movement in the iced-white world of Winter. I hear their footsteps recede in the distance and by their dissipating presence, I feel strangely warmed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

bottoms up?

This week my goal has been to take my blogger friends down the beginner run, Leeway, at Mt Bachelor Resort near Bend, Oregon. The last picture of this series, which shows my skis in a rack in front of the lodge at the bottom of the run, is a tribute to all of you for your good nature, humor, and mild curiosity about downhill skiing and snowboarding. Also my congratulations go out to MB of Small City Scenes to be the only participant left standing out of the entire motley crew. Now it is time to retreat into the lounge for refreshments by the fireplace. The round is on me!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Goin' my way?

For the last two days I have been posting photos of a beginner run named Leeway at Mt Bachelor Resort near Bend, Oregon. On this glorious crisp clear day the staff has groomed the snow beautifully, making the ride down to the bottom smooth and fast. This somewhat level spot is at the bottom of a hill, the top of which can be seen in the background of yesterday's post. The hill resembles a wide and 100 foot (35 meters) long playground slide. For those of you who are still with me and who have not been airlifted, or are still sprawled out on the snow or tangled in a pine tree, remember there is hot coffee and Baileys waiting for you at the lodge. By the way, the end is not just around the next bend but near the valley floor about a mile away. Keep in mind the old adage, "No guts, no glory."I know you'll make it!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Going my Way?

In yesterday's post I promised to take you down a beginner's run at Mt Bachelor resort near Bend, Oregon, named Leeway. At the top, the run is slightly sloping and has been groomed to make for a smooth ride. For those who seek more challenge, a skier or snowboarder can cruise through the large piles of snow on the edge or shoot off into the trees into ungroomed terrain. For our purposes, we will stick to the center and make slow looping graceful turns. I know that we don't want to go too fast and lose control or something annoying may happen. It is best to face downhill and let the skis do the turns, although this is easier said than done, but with practice I think we'll make it. I am sure you have noticed that the trail seems to drop off in the distance. Humpf, I wonder what that means? Yikes! Where's the St Bernard?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Going my Way?

This directional sign at mid-mountain, adjacent the Pine Martin lodge at Mt Bachelor Resort near Bend, Oregon, is just to the left of the location of yesterday's post. It directs skiers and snowboarders to various runs and rates them according to difficulty. A green circle connotes "easy", a blue square suggests "moderate" difficulty, and a "black" diamond (not listed) is a slope for advanced or "expert" enthusiasts.
One of the green runs, "Leeway", tickles me because of its name. I remember the first time I skied down it, I found it quite difficult and, on any given day, it still can provide quite a thrill. It is long, and has a few short, but steep drops. Follow me for the next two days while I take you along for the ride. Don't worry, you'll be safe. I won't let you fall!

Friday, December 18, 2009

view of the top

Standing at the edge of the tree line adjacent the mid-mountain lodge at Mount Bachelor Resort near Bend, Oregon, the site of yesterday's post, it is apparent there is still much mountain left to explore. The lift to the summit is East and not in view. The lift to the right of the picture is the top of the Outback Chair, which provides access to the west side of the mountain. The summit is at about ten thousand feet and provides amazing vistas of the Cascade Range. I'd love to show you some shots from above, but the lift was closed. In fact, this picture was taken last year at this time. Today it was so foggy, that from this spot, I couldn't have even seen the map in the foreground. Sometimes the weather trumps the fun. After five runs, I decided to go home rather than taking the chance of running into something solid with little "give", such as a pine tree!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Into Thin Air

This scene from mid-mountain Pine Martin Lodge at Mt Bachelor Resort near Bend, Oregon, seems like an apt picture for Skywatch Friday. Join me for a moment on this balcony, feel the cool fresh air in your lungs and let your eyes take you to the horizon. Great! Now I suppose you wonder how you're going to get down the mountain. Well, you can always slide on your butt!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lions, tigers and ......

Today, I took a new trail into the park near my house in Bend, Oregon, and came across the above sign. I hoped I would be lucky to spot some spectacular wildlife. By the way, in the small print in the lower half of the sign, it says, "If you have questions , please contact...... ." What possible questions would you have? "Should I call kitty, kitty?" "Can I take mama bear's cub home?"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter thoughts

Today's photo is the third in a series of photos featuring the arrival of Winter in Bend, Oregon. The usually rich, smooth, dark green boughs of a ponderosa pine are now frost-coated and brittle. A small cone, bundled between two clusters of needles, peeks out like a toothy rodent at the mouth of a burrow. So it is in these days, the temptation to venture out and see. Like a mad baker, Winter has coated nature's treats with icy white sprinkles, tantalizing and sugarlike to the eyes, but cold and foreboding to unmittened fingers. I stand frozen in the crisp air by this array of majesty and open my shutter and touch.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

White light

The frigid weather last week in Bend, Oregon, dressed the tan and gray brown Autumn landscape into the white garments of Winter. Last season's new growth adorns the crisp air proudly like tail feathers of an ice-sculpted peacock. Wherever I look, I spy evidence of cold white filigree bringing prominence to unsuspecting objects. It is the handiwork of the new season, which disguised first as an icy night wind, has revealed itself in texture as a bearer of nature's love song.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

(s)no man should be so lucky!

Central Oregon and Bend, Oregon, has had, like the rest of the country, its share of cold weather this week. In fact on Wednesday evening the ambient temperature dropped to 12 below zero, which is highly unusual for this area. The daytime temperature has warmed up considerably since then and much of the snow in town has melted, but last night there were fresh snow showers in the mountains and I had my first glorious day of downhill skiing. I feel fortunate to experience a variety of weather and seasons here. I know there those of you who look at the above Bend citizen and are reminded of all the snow they have shoveled in their life and are glad to be done with that. There are benefits too. I saw a father and son create this stalwart denizen. It was an act of love and joy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The write touch?

When I arose at dawn today in Bend, Oregon, I spied a design made from jets crossing above. The sky looked like a giant chalkboard. As a child I remember often seeing sky writers. Is it done anymore? If you could write something what would it be? I thought about it and decided that I 'd be glad to simply scribe in my name, nothing profound, witty nor base. I'll leave those categories for you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Going Downtown?

I have rarely posted any pictures of downtown Bend, Oregon. I have focused instead on the natural beauty of the area. This photo continues to leave followers somewhat in the dark about the town's appearance. Briefly the core business district, consisting of one way streets, contains quite a number of small boutique clothing and gift shops which I seem to be intentionally expensive. Also there are a number of better than average restaurants with elaborate wine lists for guests with a discriminating palette. It is my understanding that once Burger King was denied a permit to locate in an empty store front. My favorite stop is the barbershop. A haircut costs $17.00 which includes a beer or micro-brew for every patron. Overall the town projects a genteel atmosphere and offers visitors a clean, safe, pleasant place to stroll. Strangely enough I have not gone into most of the establishments. I am more of an alley cat than pedigree.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

War to End All Wars Revisited, Part 2

Yesterday I posted some thoughts on my Bend Daily Photo blog precipitated by the 68th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. I mirrored some ideas about war expressed eloquently by famed historian, Howard Zinn in "A Just War". I have received many comments from followers of my blog, most who see war has a necessary response to a tyrannical enemy. This position is understandable and troubling, because the choice to use force usually means that the victim must assume the behavior of the foe in order to prevail and thus exacerbates the loss of life, the destruction of resources and property and intensifies the disruption of lives of many for a dubious outcome.
As I leave for my Amizade adventure, I know that I will be asked by people along the way my position on America's role in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran, my feelings about the Taliban, and generally how I see America's role in the developing world. My responses are important to me personally and as a representative of America. In my post I suggested looking more critically at the value and purpose of military response. I struggle mightily with the subject of war and understand the positions of those that profess the need to show a tough military posture to dissuade rogue leaders and nations from trampling on the rights of others. Likewise, I am also sympathetic with those who see war and amassing materiels as a completely insane and counterproductive immoral waste of resource and suggest a paradigm shift in which the common man rejects lending himself physically, politically and spiritually as a willing sacrifice to further the aggrandizement of an elite few. At some point I need to choose what is ultimately a more compelling argument.
As I have grown older, my wish is to rediscover and cultivate the albeit naive idealism of my youth. I desire to embrace the idea of redirecting our war machine into a peace machine as an example of proper action. I want to act "as if" being socially sensitive through random acts of kindness may indirectly weaken the grip of power hungry leaders. Call it senility. I know the mean world and the enemy well. It is us. I have such little time left to believe there is anything I can do about it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A War to End All Wars Revisited

I ventured out at sunset today December 7th in Bend, Oregon, to take a picture in memory of Pearl Harbor which took place 68 years ago. Several times today I heard the statistics about the number of ships that were sunk that "infamous" Sunday morning and the number of American lives that were killed and how the next day we entered World War II. Unlike other conflicts of the recent past, it is said our entry into WWII was clearly necessary and justifiable in order to put an end to Hitler's tyranny and the Japanese lust for power.
The idea whether a war can ever be viewed as" just" has been written about eloquently by Howard Zinn in " A Just War". On this day, with the Iraq action still unresolved, and the prospect of more troops on their way to Afghanistan, it is important to consider carefully whether war is the best use of our human talents and resources to create a better world. To be sure, it is difficult to stop tyrants, or tyrannical groups but their power comes ultimately from the people who believe in them. Somehow if our government through its military can organize massive amounts of firepower, destruction which directly and indirectly brings suffering, we should equally be able to imagine amassing huge amounts of water power, construction, and goodwill. Is it worth thinking on this date again even stronger about an alternative to war?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

sknowing snow

I have shown many pictures of South Sister near Bend, Oregon, in my posts but I could not resist sharing this snowy picture. Standing at just over 11,000 feet, South Sister is the third highest peak in Oregon. This early season dumping may portend a good snow year. Snow pack is valuable for so many of our natural resources, but in recent years, warmer temperatures have caused a smaller snow pack and the melting of glaciers. There are those who wish to discredit the idea of global warming, but here on the Cascade volcanoes, especially on Mt Hood near Portland, Oregon, a marked decline in snow is easily visible by comparing recent photos with the past. There is hardly a scientist who disputes the deleterious effects of carbon on the ozone layer. Still let's hope there is the chance to preserve our beautiful environment and to enjoy vistas like this one for many years to come.