Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mountains in the Mirror

Bus depot in Weed, Ca.

Sidewalk and hill in Weed, Ca.

6.28 Grueling bus ride so far. Absolutely full, not even one spare seat. Made it to Medford to the rest stop. I had a good banana muffin and not enough coffee to keep me awake, which is the right dose. Many things wrong. There is a kind of moldy smell, which could be certain passengers or the air system or maybe the bathroom, which smelled really bad and which could drift out over the whole bus. Many rude passengers, all right around me. A girl right behind me kept me awake with bouts of laughter, loud talking, and kicking my seat. A big guy next to me stuffed his bag on top of my guitar and changed his socks in the seat, leaning the feet into the aisle. The couple in front of me are watching episodes of "Friends" with Korean subtitles on a handheld and due to ear buds in both their ears, giggling loudly. The woman right next to me has her bags all over the floor so I cant put my feet anywhere but straight in front. She's sleeping, pretty much spilling onto my side. That's it for rude or annoying people next to and directly behind me. Further back, some woman is coughing repeatedly. Some guys in the back row were blasting ipods so loud the driver came back to tell them to lower it.

There was an unusual incident in southern Oregon. Right after Roseberg an old black guy asked to get off. He said "I wanna get off here." The driver said "you're in the middle of nowhere." And pitch dark too. But it didn't phase the old buzzard, he wanted to get off the bus, and did. Maybe he wanted to go to the bathroom, or maybe he wanted to walk. After a bit the driver got off to make sure he hadn't passed out under the wheels, then got back on and drove onward, lighter by one passenger.

I kept falling asleep in spite of the discomfort and noise. That worried me. There was probably not enough oxygen in the cabin to keep me awake. I woke up in front of Mt. Shasta. It was lit too strongly by the rising sun. I tried to get self portraits in the bus glass with the mountain behind.

Sidewalk in Redding, Ca.

Trappings for Fourth of July decoration, Medford, Ore.

Temporary fireworks shop, Medford, Ore.

Lake near Mt. Shasta, Ca.

Self portrait on bus, Mt. Shasta, Ca.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sidewalk Green Room

6.26 In a very lush neighborhood in Portland. Going down these sidewalks I thought of Greg Noll's description of the Green Room that occurred when a big wave broke over him while standing up in a big barrel. These branches were so big, overhanging, and green that they were a sidewalk green room.

Due to the size of the trees the sidewalks were affected greatly by their growth. The roots created ripples, wavelets and currents in the sidewalk. Some of the humps and cracks were so big it required a kind of technical skating to ride over them, hopping or ollying the small curbs, gaps, and transitions they caused. One section of sidewalk I photographed was cut away and shaped to allow more lawn and room for the trunks and roots.

Two Wheel Skate Trick Competition
My route took me downtown where I watched a skateboard competition. The theme of the competition was the manual, meaning that every trick was supposed to involve a two wheel balance on the skatboard. The two wheel requirement made all the tricks much more difficult. I thought the skating looked really technical, and less stunt driven. I guess the entertainment value was less than most street comps, but I appreciated the control the skaters showed in mastering the two wheel manual variations of standard tricks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Street Fair Daring Deeds

6.25 Down in Portland my friend K and S and their daughter took me to a street fair and counterculture event called Last Thursday. This differs from First Thursday, a more mainstream artsy street fair.

Some of the standout sights were a couple dancing on a Winnebago and rocking the whole rig. A group of stilt walking acrobats, shrouded in white, did some swing dance lifts and flips that endangered anybody within ten feet. A ragtime and zydeco band was formed around a beautiful upright bass and an upright piano so beat up I couldn't hear it until I got right next to it. Dancers flowed around to the complex rhythm.

Dont Skate Over an Oregon Stick

6.25 My friend DM took his son LM and dog M to excercize and bike at the West Linn park and I came along with my board. The parking lot was rough and didnt have much skateability. Off to one side however, were some bike paths that led into the woods. The trees were a small type of redwood or other straight trunked, tall tree. The path wasn't steep but incredibly smooth and fast. There was a hairpin turn at the end that was tough to make. If you play the clip you can hear where I crunched some leaves going around the hairpin, cutting the corner off a bit.

There were a lot of sticks and a few pebbles which meant possibilites of hanging up. The swerving in the clip is more to avoid sticks than to carve off speed. On the walk to photo the route I noticed a stick across the path that wasnt there when I skated it. Then on closer inspection I saw it was a type of slug. Unlike the banana slugs in Santa Cruz which are bright yellow, this one was brown and clearly evolved to have a stick like camoflage. Not great camoflage to avoid getting run over by bikes, but a skateboarder will avoid you whether you are a slug or a stick.

Outside the path a pair of big hawks circled but they were too far away to shoot with my cel camera.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vine Row Extention Road

6.23 After the curved corner run I crossed the heavily trafficked street and got closer to the vineyard. The rows of vines ran straight up the hill away from my position below. I stood at the top of a street which, with a fence in between, abutted the rows in a neat parallel. It reminded me of the rows of trees that you find at the edge of the big mosques in Spain, as in Cordoba. The rows of pillars extend into rows of trees in a continuous line. It was a beautiful start to a skate run.

There was a side turnoff that went uphill and I wanted to turn up it and make a big climb and drop, sort of a big frontside carve and arc up the side hill and back onto the main street of the run. It wasn't as easy as I thought, because the street kind of dipped down then up, so I had too much speed coming up the side hill and couldn't make the turn without foot braking. The second time I tried it I got really close to the curb and drew out the arc. It was better but I still didn't get it quite right. There was a guy watering his lawn that I'm sure was watching me trying to get the maneuver right. After three runs from the top at the side street I gave up and just pumped and skated really fast into some carves. A red jeep was backing out of the driveway right at the corner which forced me to take the corner way to the left and kind of slowly. After the turn the street flattened out, but it was nice asphalt and I cruised along. There was a white barn at the end of the run which I shot without really stopping. I went up to a little parking lot and sort of tried to hot dog, kick turning slowly and walking the board. It seemed like a quiet place to do a trick or two in front of the barn, but somehow there was a car coming out of there so I felt a bit disappointed. Both the left turn and cul de sac ending had been messed up by cars and before that had been the clumsily skated turnoff hill.

This was a rare skate session that I really thought about stopping and interviewing people in the neighborhoods. Usually I am very focused on the session, trying to figure out the lines I'm going to skate, getting shots, and maybe trying to make two or three runs and not bother anyone. This time I was curious about the vineyard and the barn and it crossed my mind to do bring the residents into my project.

Vineyard Hill Fast Corner

6.23 In my explorations on skateboard around West Linn I kept noticing the big hill behind town, in fact, it kept showing up in the background of several of my shots. Check out the last picture on this post.
There is some very orderly greenery up there, and I discovered in a car trip to Corvallis that there are some vineyards on the hill. DM says they are mostly decorative, and not producing any great wine. Someone has definitely gone to some trouble, whatever the use, because the vineyard's texture and splashes of red color behind red brick retaining walls make the hill a jewel that overlooks the village.

I walked up the hill and was surprised at how much effort it took. It was really steep and gruelingly long. It took close to a half hour to mount the hill up to the flat crest. For the first time in a long time I was wearing a cotton shirt and not my synthetics and it made me feel sweaty and heavy. The hill didn't look skateable at all. The road was rough and traffic was heavy enough to make me not interested in the steep part of the hill. It probably would have taken all my remaining shoe leather to slow down. My boots soles are really worn by the way. I'm looking for a chance to resole, repair, or replace them.

Finally the hill leveled off and the single road up turned into a network of streets and cul de sacs, like in the lower hills, but these neighborhoods seemed a bit more ritzy, not surprising given their vantage point. First I walked up and traversed a steep hill and kept going up driveways. It was fun but I thought of it as a warmup and didn't skate seriously or shoot any pictures.

Near the road by the vineyard I finally found a hill worth skating and shooting. It was a steep and smooth section that curved and banked around a left turn and ran out straight. There was someone working in the garden or washing their car or something, and another guy mowing his lawn. I was pretty blatant about skating their street and taking pictures, but it was obvious that lots of people take pictures of the vineyard at that corner as it faces the vines perfectly. I may have been the only photographer shooting the pavement and sidewalks on the hill.

I worked out a good line to skate the steep, the corner, and the flat. I only walked half way up, because it seemed like I'd just be traversing if I went any higher and there wasn't that much width. It was enough height to generate a lot of speed on the drop. I carved really hard the first two turns instead of traversing and then let it go around the corner. It was some of the fastest I've skated lately. There was no way not to go fast. I was carving into the runout and I felt on the edge of wobbling. I just concentrated as hard as I could and got my arms in a big wide stance. I had the wrist guard on, but if I'd come off the board I'm not sure I could have run it off. I skated the corner three times and really enjoyed the skating and the view of the vineyard across the fence and road beyond.

Clothing Tip: Again and again I find that cotton underperforms. It is only good when you want to have a little moisture in your shirt to cool you off. That is not that often. Usually you're going to either be too sweaty or too cold wearing it, at least on your upper body. I really noticed the cotton on the climb up the hill.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Historical West Linn Village Skate

6.21 The road off Blankenship led to a road down to the village of West Linn. The road had a couple of nice features. One was that it had recently been paved and was super smooth, riding more like a concrete skatepark floor than an asphalt road. The pavement was so dark that when a car came up behind me I pulled all the way off and watched it go by, because I didn't think I'd be very visible, between the tree shadows of the late afternoon and the black surface. It was so easy to skate this stretch that I could pump it to accelerate or go deeper into the rail to slow down, with almost the same arc radius. Pretty cool.

Another thing I noticed were the reflectors that protruded from the center line. I thought they might hang me up, but I didn't ride over one to find out.

In the village I skated an area of sidewalk no more than fifty feet long that had a bunch of features. There was a funny rounded curb, which was almost a little bank, but pretty hard to just ride up on a longboard. I hit it at an angle up and down.

Next was a curvy section that wove through a handicapped access ramp bound by a rail and then around a tight almost hairpin curve surrounding some decorative trees. The curved sidewalk lined up with an old general store and fish tackle place which I shot from a couple of angles. The late sun made a big hot spot on the wall, but I think I finally got it exposed right.

Across the road from the general store there were some well preserved and beautifully restored old west wooden buildings. It was a wall formed from a row of old west facades, including a saloon.

The last thing I skated was a parking area, completely curbed in from the traffic, that ran a long ways along the road. I shot the hills in the background, which were the same vineyards as in the shots from the Albertson's parking lot I posted a few days ago.

Longship on Blankenship

6.21 Explored the roads, streets, and cul de sacs off Blankenship in my neighborhood in West Linn. That street sounds like a comic strip swearing, like "Dad Blankenship Darn It." The road I found was beautiful, lined with lawns, trees, and manicured shrubs or various shades of green. It was unusually long and only steep in one spot. I figured I'd have to footbrake in that part of the run. There were a couple of hazards: light but regular vehicle traffic and a loud collie type dog that looked capable of jumping its iron fenced yard. The road wasn't wide enough for my traverse and squashed S carve method, but there were some other braking possibilities, grassy edges, and some side streets to turn into. I looked at the driveways too but they all had lippy transitions and some had rocky gravel that would have meant trouble if the wheels didn't hit 'em just right.

On the way up I looked at a church parking lot. There was a really cool double ramp curb which I skated over to and kicked back and forth in a mini half pipe run. In front of the curb was stencilled, of course, "no skateboarding."

I'd planned on turning off on a side street way down near the bottom but it turned out there was one at the top with a beautiful banked entry. In the shot you can see the bank below the 25 mph sign. On the first run down I spontaneously turned right and went over the bank, picking up speed before going down to the right on the side street. I spread my jacket like a drag chute and carved off the speed, but lost too much speed and had to push a bit uphill to a cul de sac. There were people puttering around their cars, washing them or stocking them for a sunday picnic. I was glad I had the quiet soft wheel setup again. I was out of place enough skating through their neighborhood on my big board, with long hair held in place with a black cap, taking pictures of their street, without also rolling loudly and scraping off speed with barking slides.

I restarted the hill at the left out of the side street and easily carved it out to the bottom. The dog was never a factor.