Monday, April 22, 2013

New bridge

I expected this to go badly.

Neighbor Bill decommissioned the bridge that had been across his stream and asked if I wanted it. I didn't really need it, I guess, but it was free and, as my Uncle Bob taught me, that is one four-letter F word that is always a joy and a pleasure to hear.

Armed with my copy of the manual for Egyptian building methods, written on a papyrus scroll, rollers were placed. I expected calamity. 16-feet of bridge tilting into the little stream and sitting there useless. I was prepared to use it as a ramp to jump BMX bikes.

But the unexpected happened. She rolled right off, pretty as you please. No cussing or fighting involved. Here's the video.

Phase two was yanking the trailer out. Roll tape.

And there you have it. A new bridge.

Thanks, pyramid builders. And trailer makers. And neighbor Bill. And Toyota, maker of the T100. And Jacey Bell, technical advisor, engineer and film documenter for the project.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Trimming trees

Neighbor Gene and I rented a 40-foot extendo-ladder, or "man lift," as they say in the trades, to give his willow trees a haircut before they packed on their leaves and got unwieldly.

Looking down on TG. I've always looked up to them before this.

I'm not exactly afraid of heights, but I don't write love letters to heights either.

Moving this bucket around with the hydraulics with the boom or mast or whatever the hell that long slender thing holding you up is called, when the bucket is fully extended, can get . . . uh, well, it can make you re-think your relationship with heights.

But then I was distracted by running a chainsaw with one hand and getting slapped in the face by branches with the other, so what with the welts on my cheeks and sawdust being spit in my eyes, the time passed quickly enough.

Take that, willow trees.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

And Furthermore column: WC homing beacon

And Furthermore column, Wallowa County Chieftain. April 3, 2013

All roads lead to Wallowa County. Even a dirt road next to the beach in Baja Mexico a few weeks ago.

I knew Chris and Christina Geyer of Lostine would be at their place in Los Barriles. I was visiting Baja with my mom, dad and aunt Donna and hoped to see the Geyers, but we were staying a couple hours south of them and the timing didn’t look like it was going to work.

Then Chris put on an M. Crow & Company t-shirt. I’m convinced that’s what triggered the Wallowa County homing beacon. Our plans changed and we ended up driving by Los Barriles, where the Geyers have their place. I didn’t have a way to get a message to the Geyers on the fly. But I didn’t need to.

To calculate the probability of me driving by Chris Geyer at the precise moment we crossed paths would take one of those computers that fill a warehouse to factor in the chain of events, wrong turns and me getting lost on just the right dirt road at precisely the right instant for our rental car to be where it was when I saw Chris turn onto the road. Los Barriles has a population of around 5,000 and it’s spread out pretty good. Big enough that the magnetic force of an M. Crow & Company t-shirt is the only reasonable explanation.

Chris was coming back from a beach volleyball game. I performed a highly illegal U-turn that should have landed me in a Mexican prison and set off after him in a low-speed chase, tracking him down at his hacienda.

 This wasn’t the first time Wallowa County magnetism had worked for the Geyers in Mexico. They’d had a similar run-in when they knew Ted and Sue Juve were in the area but didn’t know how to – oh, look, there they are right there.

My last Wallowa County coincidence before this was crossing paths with Brady Goss in the Columbia Gorge. I said Hi, Brady. Instead of looking surprised he shook his head and said I was the third person from Wallowa County he’d seen in a few days while traveling from a music performance. I don’t know what’s going on, he said.

Well, Brady, it works like this. People are drawn to Wallowa County for various reasons. The natural splendor, Andy Griffith Show sense of community, outstanding warrants, whatever. Our law enforcement crew handles that last bunch. Once an individual resides in Wallowa Country for a particular length of time, they absorb certain characteristics and properties.

Some evidence that Wallowa County has a grip on you are simple enough. Recent studies indicate that 86% of Wallowa County residents have dog hair woven permanently into their clothing, vehicle upholstery and/or home floor coverings. 68% of that dog hair is from border collies. My husky dog accounts for 4% of the remainder all by herself. She sheds at a startling rate.

Another outward sign of Wallowa County connection is wincing when the words “Portland” and “traffic” are heard spoken together. Often this triggers a curling of the lip and looking away in disgust.

Swearing you can’t stand fast food but eating it on the down-low when you leave the Wallowas is another common trait. Confusion over popular culture. Becoming partial to Carhartt clothing. The list goes on.

The unseen effects of Wallowa County entering your double helix are the result of invisible magic laser beams sent from atop Mount Joseph. When you are outside the Wallowa County line, your internal processor searches for that signal, much like a cell phone that is roaming and trying to connect.

External antennas, such as Carhartt jeans, border collie hair on your clothing or an M. Crow & Company shirt boost the signal on the Wallowas frequency. If other signals are in the vicinity they exert the same magnetic draw that pulled you to the Wallowas. Next thing you know, you’re eating lunch in Baja with friends from Lostine. It’s a small world. But only when you’ve just had a strange coincidence, otherwise it’s still a pretty big world.

Jon Rombach is a local columnist for the Chieftain.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Imnaha pics

Here's some photos from a recent Imnaha steelhead trip, courtesy of Tony Tranquilli.

My, but that's pretty country.

Camp being attacked by sunbeams.
Hiking back.