Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On The Road

Its hard to believe I'm already a week into this trip and I haven't posted once! This has been a very busy week, with many destinations and a boatload of material that I need to sort through. This jampacked week is courtesy of my great friend Liz who decided to join me till I reached Seattle. Being a far more prolific planner than I am she managed to map out a route that would maximize things done for her leg of the trip. It was a success.

Day 1 (Sunday):
Had a late start that day due to some last minutes interviews with my parents. Didn't leave Berkeley till after 3pm so I knew it was going to be a long day. Ended up having dinner in Redding at the Black Bear Diner. Food was classic Americana, for better or worse. I did however receive a comment about my "homeless guy" t-shirt (well... more like "hey, that guy's wearing a homeless guy t-shirt!"), which was funny because I had totally forgotten that I was even wearing it. We finally made it to Klamath Falls, OR around 11pm and stayed at the America's Best Value Inn (quaint and inexpensive, though right by the highway).

Day 2:
The Open Fields
Left Klamath Falls early for the drive to Crater Lake. Holy crap Oregon is GREEN! Not in the "hey look at the shrubbery" kind of green but in the "look at the green forest, and the behind that the green hills, and in front of that the green fields" kind of green. With the combination of the green and the sunlight peeking through the clouds the only things keeping it from being a perfect “in touch with the wilderness” moment were 1) The awful, horrible road noise (Oregon doesn't seem to understand the concept of a smooth highway and instead decided to pave their highways with gravel or something) and 2) The neverending road construction (which would hopefully alleviate problem 1).

Crater Lake Panorama
Crater Lake however was fantastic. Think of it as if you took a mountain and just scooped out the middle. Its very reminescent of Lake Tahoe (very deep, very blue) but only smaller and with steeper sides. We ended up taking a hike up to Scott Peak which overlooks the lake. Very few hikes actually land you at a location were you have a full 360ยบ view of everything, but here, the only higher than where we stood was a small fire lookout on a nearby peak. Yeah... it was cool. I ended up striking up a conversation with a family who was at the top with us and apparently they were from someplace north of Vancouver and the father gave enough “eh”s and “dontchaknow”s to make up for the entire Canadian population (or at least his family anyway...).
The next stop was in Eugene, OR, which was the first major Oregon city we drove through. It has a distinctly small college town feel to it (think Davis without the cows and more trees). It has the requisite cheap (and not so cheap) eateries, the hippy backpackers/hitchhikers, and a quiant downtown shopping district. We had dinner at Steelhead Brewery, where the beer was good and cheap and the food was adaquately good (only so much you can do with a burger or a burrito) before taking a walk around the block and landing at the Oregon Electric Station, a rather upscale restaurant in an old, well, electric station. A glass of port and and a sundae later (trust me, I won't be eating like this again for a LONG time) it was time to head back to the Express Inn, as the next morning was gonna be a early one.

Day 3
So day 3's start requires a bit of explanation. See, Liz is a runner. She claims she's not a “great” runner, but she can outrun me many times over, so she will reside in great runner status till things change on my part. Anyway, after finding the stopping point in Eugene, she had had HAD to go and run on Hayward Field's track. You see, there's this guy named Prefontaine. He was apparently a world class runner and ran for UO on this very track. So for her to run on the track it would be like a Yankees fan playing a game of pickup baseball at Yankee Stadium, or me taking laps around Silverstone or Laguna Seca, and the prospect of doing this made her giddy in a way I have rarely seen. Bingo, I have found my first happiness segment.
So with this in mind I awoke at 7am, put on some shorts and a tshirt (mind you, it was in the mid 50's outside), and drove the short distance to the track in order to film her glorious 3-miler on Hayward Field. The field itself was very nice, though having actually been on only a handful of other fields in my life my judgement could be off. When we got there it was almost empty save for a couple other runners and the ground crew doing some watering and maintainance. After a short stretch we were off, and 10 minutes 30 seconds later we had done our warmup mile (well, her warmup, my final).
Now... about filming runners. I went into it thinking it would be just like filming cars, only, well... slower. In certain respects thats very true. You're trying to film something that moves, and more importantly moves quickly enough to outpace you the photographer. Certain aspects of track based events however make this task easier and harder. By being on a track, there are multiple opportunites to film the same thing (except the start and finish of course). However, by being on the track and not having access to any mode of transport other than my own two feet, camera stabilization was definitely an issue. My ghetto-stickcam (using the stick from my Zoom H4N) didn't quite cut it, though it would have required a pretty large steadycam rig (even a cheap pvc/conduit one) to really compensate for the shake of a full run. But a combination of shaky stickcam and very high shutter speed (1/200 to 1/500) meant a very “Jason Bourne” style of shot, for better or worse.
Having had a morning run a bit of breakfast was in order, which ended up being at [name of cafe]. After that was a quick walking tour of Eugene before leaving for Salem. We managed to arrive in Salem in time for the final Capitol building tour, which took us to the top of the Oregon Capitol to right underneath where the “Oregeon Pioneer” statue stands. It gives a great view of Salem, though Salem is such a small capital compared to the likes of Sacramento. Taking the tour with us was a family from Alaska (with a grandmother who just wouldn't shut up) and a family from Vladivostok Russia. Apparently the guy was doing research at UO for particle physics (!!!) and had been residing in Oregon for 7 years. The Russian physicist... almost as common a stereotype as the Russian chemist. The tour itself was pretty informative, though photo opportunities were few and far between.
Leaving Salem, we headed for Portland. Now... I should mention that by this time it was kind of late, we hadn't eaten since lunch, and both of us were pretty hungry. Getting into Portland was a bit messy with all its construction, but we eventually made it to the motel (which by my standards was adaquate, but Liz thought otherwise) and the headed off for dinner at [name of place]. The lamb and polenta were fantastic, but man, I really shouldn't have ordered that savory yogurt drink... If you can imagine putting salt into a standard yogurt drink then you get what this would taste like. Yeah... not a good image is it? At least the Pub at the End of the Universe made up for that. It was really tucked away but had a neat vibe and good beer, not to mention outdoor seating. A good end to a very very long day.

More back logged updates to be continued....

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