July 9 - Volksmarch in Salem, Oregon
I tried out the plublack jam at breakfast and it was surprisingly good. The color was a nice clear dark red, the bouquet was a light fruity smell, the taste was a tart blend of plum and blackberry with just a hint of sweetness, and the spreading consistency was a perfectly balanced jell, avoiding the extremes of being runny, rubbery, or gummy. Yahoo! Success! To be fair, there were a few seeds from the blackberries as I did not have a sieve to strain them out the way I do at home, but since if was about 2/3 plum the seeds were few enough not to be annoying.
Now I don't know beans about wine, to mix a metaphor, but jam has many of the same qualities as wine except perhaps, a head, or is it a nose? No, wait, a beer has a head but the wine has a nose, or is it eyes? If wine has a nose, what kind of a drink has eyes? Is that what you call the olive in a martini? Does any beverage have a mouth? Is that what you call the milk mustache as in, "Yum, that milk sure has a good mouth!" Can you imagine any beverage that would have ears? Would you want to drink it if it did? Anyway, after years of making jam I think I can evaluate it pretty well and this batch basically succeeded. So although you can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd (or at least it would be very dangerous if mothers with calves were in the herd), I learned on this trip that you can make jam in a travel trailer!
Buoyed my jamming success, I started to drive south to Salem, Oregon, while Monika found the directions in our "Starting Point" book for the state capital walk. The start box was in a big hospital about a mile from the capitol building, and we were happy to find that it had plenty of free parking for visitors. I told Monika we would have to hold down the pace quite a bit as I was trying to avoid aggravating that blister, and she, still being tired from the previous day, was more than happy to agree. The net result was that we started out at an "All Ahead Slow" kind of pace, sort of a strolling gait rather than our usual "Marching to Pretoria" gait. Still, I was not yet at the stagger, limp, or fall gaits, so I was happy just to plod along and stop every chance I could to take pictures.
As it turned out, there were quite a few photographic opportunities on this walk. The state capitol building had nice parks on three sides of it, and any of those parks could be used to frame nice pictures of the capitol dome. One side park had nice flower gardens, a fountain, and a graceful gazebo. When we walked by, there were scads of preteen kids playing or standing around in gaggles in the park, but they were much to busy trying to impress each other to pay any attention to us. We had to turn by the beaver statue underneath a Giant Sequoia, and the tree certainly was big enough to deserve its name!
The main entrance to the capitol fronts on a medium sized mall that had flowerbeds and two fountains. We particularly liked the nicely sculptured fountain in the center of the mall area; it seemed to be evoking waves crashing on a seashore. Please don't take this interpretation seriously, check with the sculptor directly or go look at it and form your own impression. I discovered in Missouri during Wanderung 3 that I could be completely, 180 degrees off base from what the sculptor is attempting to communicate with a fountain.
In the same vein of being completely off base or at least off kilter, the golden statue of a man on top of the capitol's dome reminded me of nothing so much as the robot C3PO in Star Wars. It was so close a resemblance that I could almost here him calling, "Master Luke! Master Luke!" Now that was refreshing. After all, most of the typical domed state capitals (like Utah, Missouri, etc.) can at best remind me of R2D2, the little domed android who just beeped, whistled, and showed holograms of the Princess with a projector in his head. He was smarter than C3PO, to be sure, but a whole lot less verbal. I mean, after all, which of the two would you invite to a dinner party? Or if it came to that, which of the two would you feel more comfortable taking home to meet your parents? Not that I'm recommending any kind of human-android relationships, of course. As John used to say, "Never marry outside your species!", and I'm sure he would include androids in that warning.
Where was I? Oh yes, we continued our walk around the capitol and crossed the street to enter the campus of Willamette University. The campus had some nice old buildings as well as many plain but no doubt functionally excellent new ones, but the thing that astonished us the most was five Giant Sequoias placed on an open space in the shape of a star. These trees were simply beautiful. At 154 feet tall, they were, a sign claimed, "The tallest Christmas Trees on any campus!" I was very surprised that they were only 62 years old, having been planted in 1942. That meant that these puppies grow over two feet per year in this climate! And since they can live to be over 1,000 years old, you can see that the potential size of the thing in the long run is absolutely huge. I really hope I can get at least one to grow in our lawn back in Virginia. That will certainly give the Architectural Control Committee of our subdivision something to chew on a few hundred years from now! (I can see furious debate about such issues as "Do the bylaws allow your tree be bigger than your house?" and such like.)
We exited the campus past another nice sculpture of a pair of eagles building a nest and started zig zagging our way back toward the hospital. This walk is roughly in the shape of a figure 8 with the hospital in the center. I was still not limping too badly by the end of the first loop, so we kept on going. The route next led through Bush Park, a park with many beautiful trees and gardens, I thought, but which evidently creates mixed feelings out here because I saw a bumper sticker saying "Defoliate Bush!". We of course enjoyed the park tremendously as we walked through it; I enjoyed a statue of a cow and a cat with a plaque that explained that the last owner of the land had allowed 27 cats and some cows wander about the place, which I think qualifies her as being a genuine American Eccentric. That many animals must have made walking around slightly more difficult (think cow patties), but I couldn't see hide nor hair of anything except squirrels and children while we were there. The squirrels were being fed by a visitor and the children, presumably already fed by their mothers, were playing at a nice playground that included a little crooked playhouse, which looked like fun.
From the park we continued into the second loop of the figure 8, but we were moving pretty slowly. It was by now 1 p.m. and Monika suspected that a lack of food was at least part of the energy problem, so we detoured off the route a block to stop for lunch at a Wendy's before continuing over to the Governor's Mansion. Monika thought it was surprisingly modest as these mansions go. I judged it to be larger than some mansions like the Alaskan governor's mansion in Juneau, but smaller than others so I thought it was middle of the mansion road, to mangle another metaphor. There was one final extra loop to the walk and then we returned back past one edge Bush Park. This time we passed a very extensive rose garden, and all the plants were blooming profusely. It smelled great and looked simply beautiful, just like the rose garden in Arlington, Virginia on the Volksmarch our club sponsors there.
Actually, one of our strongest impressions of Salem from this walk was that flowers were blooming absolutely everywhere in great profusion. Either the local culture encourages horticulture or else these flowers are almost growing themselves in this climate, because the variety and brilliance of the floral displays was extremely impressive. We saw fuchsia bushes in the park by the capitol that to our mind were so big that they had to be growing like perennials rather than being planted each year as annuals such as they are in our area of the country. The blooms of one of these bushes were huge, at least three times the size of the fuchsias you buy in a typical hanging basket where we live.
My right foot was getting kind of tender by the end of the walk, so I cut over to the parking garage while Monika plodded on to the start box to hand in our start card and walking fee. At our super slow speed the walk had taken over four hours, so It felt good just to be sitting down again. It was too late to try to drive to Fort Clatsop on the coast--we figured they would close just about the time we got there--so we retraced our route north on Interstate 5 and 205 back to the campground. Traffic was heavy and we repeatedly encountered traffic jams which brought us all to a screeching halt, so the drive was no fun at all and I was very glad to get back and park the truck. That also let me put my feet up before dinner and write in the journal while Monika did our laundry, after which we had a light supper. Then I returned to writing while Monika used Daddy to process the day's pictures. That takes more time than you might imagine since we take over 100 pictures on a typical day, maximizing out at 250 or so pictures for days where there is a lot to see. However, seeing the results the same evening is fun for us, in the sense of getting some immediate gratification, and we can then clear out the chip in the camera so it is ready for the next day's shooting. It is an odd system perhaps, but one that works for us.
That evening I used for the first time the beginning artist set that Monika had bought me in Boise for Father's Day. It was just a sketch of how things appeared to me in the morning just when we were waking up. I thought the composition of curves given by Monika's cheek and hair contrasted rather nicely with the curves and colors of the curtains and wood grain on the side of the trailer, and that is clearly something I could never catch correctly with the camera. So I broke out the artist set and sketched it enough to at least remember what colors to use if I try to paint it later, but even that took a surprising amount of time. The small pamphlet on how to draw and paint that came with it was surprisingly good, but it is clear that I'll have to practice the basic skills quite a lot (months? years?) to be able to do art at any level of competence.
Although clearly I can do some level (maybe a very low level!) of art, music, and literature while traveling, the dilemma is that there really is not time for it all, at least the way we were traveling. I was torn between spending time sketching rather than practicing on the recorder or dulcimer, practicing singing, or reading Twain's "Roughing It" or any of the other e-books I had downloaded from Project Gutenberg. When our cycle of daily activities included walking or biking for several hours, taking and processing over a hundred pictures, and writing for several hours in the journal, we just didn't seem to have much time or energy for anything else. How do other people who travel handle this? Is there some secret to doing art, music, and literature while traveling that I'm missing? Shortening up on sleep is one seductive answer, but there seems to be a limit to that approach that we crash into rather soon. After all, our stay in Burlington before the trip started clearly demonstrated that after one week on short sleep rations we were zombies! Anyway, in the latter part of the evening I read a few more chapters of "Roughing It" and we both finished our Baxter Black books. Fortunately Monika's book was of the consistently funny commentaries that Black supplies to National Public Radio, so she was in a good mood, and the novel I was reading had a happy ending so I also felt good and could just slip off to sleep. If a novel or movie has a depressing ending, sometimes I start a mental dialog with the writer as to how to revise the ending, and that's not a good way to get to sleep!Copyright 2004 by Robert W. Holt and Elsbeth Monika Holt