Thursday, August 31, 2006

Report: Shawshank's Redemption

While passing through Mansfield, OH on my US 30 Lincoln Highway road trip, I stopped at the historic Ohio State Reformatory and was fortunate to be able to take a tour offered by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society. I have prepared this Report to give you a little history of the facility and to share the highlights of my tour. Many thanks to all of the Society’s volunteers who are putting so much of themselves into the renovation of this important site and also to my good friend Stephen Jacob for once again providing a perfect piece of background music! (Note: This Report includes my first attempt at narration. I think it turned out pretty well and adds a lot to the video -- hopefully worth all the extra production effort! Please let me know what you think!)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Logbook: St. Louis

Stlouis2Shortly after Greg left Minneapolis on Tuesday morning, I e-mailed my niece -- who is working in Rochester, MN this summer -- to see if she would be willing to make the drive up to join me for dinner. I’m delighted she agreed because we had a really nice time together, and I hope we can rendezvous again elsewhere in the world. Wednesday was a travel day with a pair of long, but very satisfactory Amtrak rides that put me in St. Louis. Thursday and Friday were “other work” days with some fine folks who offered me some very interesting conversations and rewarding interactions. Yesterday was full of St. Louis exploration -- especially culinary -- including a tour of the Anheuser Busch brewery, fried raviolis at McGurks, pizza at Imo’s and a “concrete” at Ted Drewes. According to my very gracious hosts, I can now honestly say I know the “in things” of St. Louis! Today has involved marooning my first Devil Duck -- check the map to see what that is all about -- and a variety of other Voyage-related efforts. I plan to be in St. Louis for a few days longer then head east toward Pennsylvania. Being in one place for a while has been great, but I’m starting to get the feeling of being ready to continue The Voyage of Macgellan!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Logbook: The End of the Road Trip

Endroadtrip1After leaving Bismarck on Sunday morning, the road trip entered a somewhat surrealist phase. Although we’d already driven 800 miles through wide-open spaces of nothing, the Hi-Line and Badlands had been interesting in a bizarre yet captivating way. Continuing our road trip on I-94 was just plain boring, and we were in an almost trance-like state as the miles rolled by. We were briefly amused by driving through a thunderstorm and stopping to film the amazing cloud formations that it produced, but we mostly just drove and drove and drove... To Fargo, ND where we stopped for the night. Yesterday morning we spent an hour in the small but excellent airplane museum, challenging each other with trivia questions about the many WWII airplanes on display. Then, it was back in the car and on the road to Minneapolis.

Endroadtrip2Although neither of us are shoppers, we are both capitalists and decided that a visit to the Mall of America was in order. What a place... What an experience! In essence, MOA is four “normal” malls stacked on top of each other and houses every kind of retailer known in the universe. We were amazed -- and, frankly, a little bit creeped out -- by the raging consumerism. While it is “good for the economy” for people to be out buying stuff, we had trouble convincing ourselves that it was “good buying.” Jeans selling for $150 and just plain “junk” everywhere... Who knows? After walking the entire mall, we figured maybe we were just being crotchety old men and decided to take the light-rail down town for dinner. We picked Hooters as the perfect way to end our guys’ road trip, and I took the opportunity to embarrass Greg one more time by having the girls ambush him for a photo as we were leaving. This morning we had some time to reflect on our trip and our time together before Greg headed to the airport for his flight home. The Hi-Line Road Trip is now finished, and we are both wiser and better for it. Thanks, Greg, for being a great companion on The Voyage of Macgellan!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Logbook: The Hi-Line

Hiline1Friday morning, KC and I left Eureka and drove south to Helena where I met my friend Greg who had flown in from Seattle to join me for an old-fashioned “road trip” along “The Hi-Line” -- The northernmost highway across Montana and North Dakota which more-or-less follows the trail of Lewis & Clark. So after spending the day driving SE through the “hilly” part of Montana, Macgellan got back in a car and started driving NE to the “flat” part of that immense state. About 200 miles later -- after stopping to eat in Wolf Creek and then to poke around the lovely town of Fort Benton -- we hit the Hi-Line (Highway 2) in Havre, MT. The local Super 8 Motel -- free (intermittent) wireless internet! -- was our home for the night.

In the morning (yesterday) we started the day with a brief internet check-in (Greg was a good boy and Skyped his wife back in Seattle) then had breakfast and headed out of town. The miles just fly by on the Hi-Line at the posted speed limit of 75 mph, and by the time we reached Culbertson -- 261 miles form Havre -- we figured we’d pretty much had the “Hi-Line experience” and decided to head southeast through the “badlands” -- or at least “not-so-good-lands”-- of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. What a drive! Miles upon miles of absolutely nothing! By about 6pm -- after 8 hours of driving -- we were ready to stop for the day and tried to find a room in Medora, ND, the “center” of the Park. Alas, no rooms were available so we headed east again, trying Dickinson, Richardton and Glen Ullin before finally finding a cheap, basic, “good enough” room in a roadside motel in New Salem. Needless to say, the place had no internet, so we got up this morning, drove here to Bismark and have found breakfast and an internet cafe. In a little while we will head east again, bound for Fargo, ND.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Musing: Who is US?

Whoisus1Say the word "logging" to someone in a metropolitan city and they will very likely conjure up images of bald, ravaged mountains that have been devastated by indiscriminate clear cutting, then opine at length about the evils of logging and of the selfish, greedy loggers who so thoughtlessly spoil the land. Say the word "logging" to someone in northwest Montana and they will probably envision a lovely forest that has been selectively harvested, pruned for health and cleared of fire-prone underbrush, then talk about how important it is to take care of the forests for future generations. I know I'm generalizing, but I think you get the gist: City folks and country folks are different. They've got different realities, perspectives, values, priorities, etc.

After a month of voyaging repeatedly between city and country, I am as aware of this as I have ever been. I'm also powerfully reminded about how important it is for us to mind our own business and not superimpose our decisions and rules on others whose realities we do not share. This is difficult, of course, in a country like the US where popular vote has the power -- it's just so easy for the urban majority to make rules that make sense to them but which may be insane for the distant, rural minority. So here's a thought experiment that has entertained me on the road recently: Suppose voting was done by area instead of population. What might the rules for Seattle, New York, Chicago and San Francisco be if Alaska, Montana and the Dakotas got to vote their proportionate land mass instead of their head count? To a Montana rancher with 25,000 acres, paving land to make parking lots or cutting grass and throwing away the clippings might well be viewed as a wasteful devastation of precious land.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Logbook: Trego-Libby-Eureka, MT

Trego_2Just as planned, my friend met me Tuesday morning at the Whitefish, MT train station and we went for breakfast. An hour-long ride to the north later, and we were pulling into the logging operation in Trego, MT. It was immediately fascinating and I proceeded to shoot about 5 gigs of stills and video, some of which I have edited into a Report that I think you will enjoy. Wednesday we drove a series of Forest Service roads to Libby, MT where we had lunch at The Libby Cafe (which has working wireless!) then drove over to the Libby Dam. The dam is very interesting and we had a great tour of it, but due to "security" I was not allowed to shoot any media so I can't share much about it. You will find the few shots I was able to take on the Photos page. Last night after dinner, we edited much of the logging operation media into a documentary movie for my friend. It's too long to share with you on this site, but I'm delighted to report that it turned out good enough to earn Macgellan his room and board for the week! I love this job! Today is a "Mac Day" as I catch up on media, reports, logbook entries, photos, etc. Tomorrow morning I will head south to Helena, MT where Macgellan will continue The Voyage! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Logbook: Portland, OR - Whitefish, MT

PortlandorThis picture of me walking into the motel in Portland, OR was taken by my friends on Saturday just after they dropped me off and we said good-bye. I recall the moment precisely. Although I'd already had a number of "starts" and "firsts" on The Voyage, this one somehow felt like "the real thing." No more familiar territory, no more support of being with friends, no more pre-arrangements. The Voyage of Macgellan was beginning "in earnest" in a whole new way. With this in mind, I walked in, checked in and got online to "report my findings." As you can probably tell by the changes to this website, I spent most of Sunday working in iWeb on my beloved MacBookPro. Fortunately, the motel had a fast, stable internet connection and I made the most of it. On Monday, I caught the shuttle to the Amtrak station in Portland and headed out of town. On the train, I had a "Superliner Sleeperette" which is a little "room" (about 3.5 x 7 feet overall) that is configured with two large, comfy seats facing each other during the day that convert into a pretty decent bed at night (I didn't try the upper berth, but I doubt it is as nice as the lower). Dinner was pretty good, and I was able to converse with some folks of drastically different "world view" from my own without pissing anybody off. See... I'm learning! I woke up Tuesday morning about 30 minutes before the train pulled into Whitefish, MT so I had enough time to gulp a cup of coffee, gather my belongings and reflect fondly on my first overnight train ride... All in all, a good experience that I found to be a fine alternative to flying!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Logbook: Oregon Coast

Oregoncoast1I woke up Thursday morning after a much needed, solid 10 hours of sleep! After a good breakfast -- fruit and granola, thank you very much -- I took a nice walk down to the beach and around a bit of Newport. Okay as seaside towns go, but nothing great. By mid-morning I was packed and ready when my friends called to say they were on their way into town. I grabbed my gear and waited by the side of the road -- something I imagine I may be doing a lot of in the future -- and waited. Upon their arrival, we had happy hugs all around, threw my stuff into their camper and drove north for lunch at the famous Mo’s Restaurant in Lincoln City. (Famous, maybe... good, definitely not.) From there it was a bit further north to Tilamook where Conrad and the kids toured the dairy factory while Peggy and I shopped for supplies at Fred Meyer. What an ordeal! Even with two of us working together, it took us an hour to check off the list. I will admit that some of our time was used snickering to each other about the various life forms in that rural mega-store... ‘Nuff said.

From there we went to the campground where I was very impressed at the teamwork involved in setting everything up... Especially young Christian who did a fine job assembling my deluxe private tent! The rest of the day was happily spent on the beach and having dinner. Friday was mostly a lazy camp day, highlighted by a nice 2.5 mile walk out onto the ocean bluff. Saturday morning we all packed up and drove to Portland. We had a bittersweet parting as they dropped me off at my motel; glad to have had our special time together to kick off The Voyage, looking forward to more good times ahead, and knowing that things will be different for some time to come.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Logbook: Underway... Overweight...

Underway2At 5:30 this morning, I enacted in reality a vision I had almost exactly one year ago: With a Mac and a pack, I walked to the corner and got on a bus. Seattle Metro carried me from Greenwood and 85th street to downtown and I walked a ways to the train station. Amtrak checked me in and informed me that my pack was over their strict 50 pound weight limit, so I was very glad I had planned for “offloading” some of my gear into a small collapsible duffel! With a small adjustment made, the train left Seattle at 7:30 am and arrived in Portland at 11:15 am where I transferred immediately to a bus which took me on a 1.5 hour ride to Salem. A brief stop-over -- with just enough time to have a bowl of chowder and a salad at the quaint “Depot” restaurant -- and I was on the next bus for another 1.5 hour ride to Newport. Arriving at 4 pm, I found a so-so motel that proudly advertises its “high speed internet access in every room” (Internet, yes... hi-speed, not so much) and checked in. I poured myself a dram of my beloved scotch and made a check of e-mail (Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and supportive bon voyages!) and a couple of Skypes. Dinner time rolled around and I was quite happy to find a decent salmon meal at a nearby diner. Now my belly is full and I am exhausted! Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and another day on the Voyage tomorrow!