Category Archives: Minnesota

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Rock the Garden

I flew back to Minnesota for the weekend to catch Rock the Garden with Kate. We were too busy filling up on beer and wine to catch much of Solid Gold and Yeasayer, but Calexico was a sweet breath of hot desert air blown in from the Great American Southwest. Then, The Decemberists played The Hazards of Love in its entirety, rendering me a weeping ball of blubbery, emotional goo for sixty minutes. They followed it up with a killer encore, which had me trying to reel my jaw back up into my face.

Those cats can play, man. They’re the real deal. Kate proposed we move to Portland because, you know, The Decemberists are from Portland, and I believe she makes a sound argument. Moving to a particular town in order to be closer to your favorite band that otherwise tours nationally on a regular basis makes complete sense.


Last night we (kinda, sorta) invited ourselves over to a dinner party at the Ingman Estate, where our tremendous peals of laughter dared set off car alarms in the street. We discussed such things as Super Fantastic tomatoes, sucker-popping, and a brilliant marketing campaign for propane.

We ate and drank and laughed and talked until the wee hours of the night, and this morning Kate and I woke up bright and early so we could get new iPhones. It’s a good thing we got a head start on the project, because we ended up traveling to three locations and spending four hours getting our plan in shape. Luckily we scored an incredibly helpful representative at the AT&T store, who got us all squared away after an hour of tireless effort.

Kate dropped me off at the Minneapolis airport where I spent a good half-hour going through security, and I made it to San Francisco just in time for a most-experiential ride on the BART. The doors didn’t work properly, the conductor spoke in an awkward and confusing cadence, they rebooted the train computer by shutting off power for a minute, and a homeless fellow panhandled us on the train. Which is mighty bold. Seriously, San Francisco has standards.

The Rivimino

A few years ago my friends and I discovered an odd car in a parking lot in Minneapolis, a strange-looking thing with custom tail lights, welded rails and an unpainted steel flatbed. We immediately concluded that this was perhaps the craziest, most brilliant, most ridiculous automobile we had ever seen in our lives, and so of course we had to take turns posing with it.

Dane posing with The Coolest Car Ever

I posted the image to my Photolog at Brainside Out, and thought little of it until last month when I got an email from a fellow named Allen up in Hibbing, Minnesota. Allen found the car while doing a Google Image search for the coolest car ever where it currently displays in second place, in the company of Lamborghinis, ahead of the Batmobile, and behind the 92 mpg FuelVapor Technologies Alé.

As it turns out, Allen’s car is the Coolest Car Ever. He bought it after it had been rear-ended, and he built the flatbed instead of replacing the trunk like normal. He calls it the Rivimino, a contraction of Riviera and El Camino.

The Rivimino, finished

The Rivimino, under construction

Cool, huh? Small world.


I don’t know what to say, so pardon my obliqueness.

When Kate told me the news I booked a flight back to Minnesota for the following day.

That was a week ago last Friday.

Kate and I went canoeing. We visited with friends. We went to the zoo. We picked strawberries.

The service was this past Saturday. It was at the arboretum. It was beautiful.

Everyone is doing remarkably well, all things considered.

I arrived back in Hood River today. Kate leaves for Menogyn tomorrow.

Thank you.

Fire Season

The Ham Lake Fire is now 100% contained on the American side. It’s still got some elbow room on the Canadian side, but it has mellowed out considerably over the last few days. Today it even snowed up at camp, and so we all breathe a collective sigh of relief as we realize it won’t be burning to the ground this time.

Now that Charter has kindly yanked me from the Dark Ages and fixed mine internets, I’ve finally gotten around to uploading our photos from our backpacking trip to Zion this past March.

As for Hood River, the early summer season is definitely upon us. Cars now stop where there aren’t any stop signs and keep driving where there are, pedestrians randomly dart out into traffic without any sense of self-preservation, all the real estate signs are going up again, and kiters and windsurfers are sparring with one another regarding the proper use of the Event Site.

The weather, too, has been beautiful for the most part. Sadly today it rained all day and was a chilly 50 degrees, which came as a surprise as we’ve been enjoying sunny, 80-degree days in the recent weeks.

Yup, today was kind of a wash out day for Canadian May Long Weekend, but hopefully Monday holds some promise for better weather and better wind. Another round of fisticuffs at The Spit, while unfortunate, would certainly liven things up a bit. Now that the kiters spent all day Saturday piling debris, burning logs and cleaning up The Boneyard, there’s plenty more room to host a tussle.


My beer’s fermentation was slow to start on its first day, but now that the yeast has had a bit of time to get its bearings things are cookin’ right along. My closet currently smells like a blue ribbon at an Appalachia science fair. For future reference I know not to pitch my yeast too early, but the good news is that this batch need not suffer for my haste. “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

Today I went on an awesome day hike to Tamanawas Falls, a really popular hike near Mount Hood that has become a bit less popular ever since all the bridges washed out in last year’s Glacial Outburst. I parked at the usual trailhead (it seems you can still reach it from the Polallie trailhead as well) and found a 12″ diameter tree that had fallen across the river, granting a 20-foot span over the raging torrent.

After that the hike was pure gravy, except that I was completely unprepared for the sheer scale of Tamanawas Falls. The cascade is fifty feet wide and 125 feet tall, and it roars over a sheer basaltic cliff. The water crashes with such force that it tosses up a thick mist that fills the valley like a cathedral. Thick coats of moss cover everything that the mist envelops, and with some scrambling you can get into a huge alcove that’s actually behind the waterfall.
All that, and I had the place completely to myself.

After hiking I jammed down to The Spit to do some kiting, and was subsequently nuked off the water. Damn, it was gusty today, even for the Gorge. Not even fifteen seconds into my reach I got slammed by a gust, and it was nowhere but downwind for me at that point. I bailed my kite with someone on the beach, and Boardin’ Bob was kind enough to drag my board back into the shallows where I could grab it. Seriously, I owe that guy a beer.

When I got back to the parking lot, I found Adrian nailing someone’s sandal to a post.

I suppose there are two approaches to lost gear.

This weekend I finally got a chance to catch up on what’s happening with the Ham Lake Fire, which is rapidly devouring one of my favorite places on the planet. This is by far the most current and detailed map that I’ve found for the fire, and it really drove home the locality for me. Like, the Gunflint Trail is my neighborhood. That’s where I lived for two summers. I paddled that border route at least a half-dozen times.

I don’t know what to say, except that Sue Prom’s photos already say it all. This one has its own eerie beauty that somehow gives me hope:

Ham Lake Fire Sunset

While this one breaks my heart:

Ham Lake Fire, Burned Canoes