Bend, OR

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People in Bend, Oregon, are pretty insistent about Bend being sunny, as in more than 300 days a year that are either sunny or mostly sunny. I was there last week and there was only one sunny day out of seven (above, at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort). The rest of the time was taken up with rain, snow, sleet and freezing rain in varying amounts, coating the sage and juniper of the high desert. It was November though.

Mt. Bachelor is at the end of a roughly 20-mile road that climbs the long, easy grade from Bend into the mountains. Easy by Vermont standards, but an interesting Oregon folkway is that they do not apply salt to the roads. A good idea, no doubt, but it makes for some cautious and interesting driving, even when the snow is light. Highway crews dump red lava rock on everything that looks like a road, and that helps.

The population of Bend in 1990 was about 20,500. Today it is more than 80,000. As soon as you get out of the relatively small core of the downtown, you can see the explosion of growth on both sides of the Deschutes River: acres and acres of apartment and condo complexes, malls, mini malls, and new houses perched on the hills, all connected by newish roads and a lot of nice roundabouts.  Plus 19 breweries (Count ‘em by clicking here.) Bend has grown so fast in the last few decades that it has its own Growth Management Department. And the city council just approved a $28 million sewer expansion.

If you climb the roughly 500 feet to the top of Pilot Butte, you can see not only highways and the roofs of relatively new buildings in all directions, but also the sage, the juniper and the ring of volcanoes and volcanic debris that surround the town. Pilot Butte itself is an extinct volcano, a cinder cone — unlike the Newberry volcano, about 20 miles away, which is considered “potentially active.”

Everybody in Bend is active too. It’s an outdoor town, full of cyclists, runners, snowboarders, skiers, kayakers, climbers. Interesting place. Don’t know whether it’s done growing or not.

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Posted in Bend, Oregon, Skiing Tagged , |

Wintry Notch

DSCF6818copyW_1Hard to beat Smugglers Notch in Stowe for drama in early winter. It’s not Buffalo, but it is winter. This was Friday, temperatures in the low 20s and a gusty wind. Frigid, with lots of blue light. Of course, today it’s in the 40s and rainy, and heading for the 60s tomorrow.

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Posted in Skiing, Vermont, Winter

Free Verse

113013_7718copyWEBUnion Square, NYC. When inspiration strikes, hunt and peck, but it does make you wonder: Do you need an official poetic license to write free poems in New York?

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Posted in New York, People, Poetry

Slightly Snowier

DSC_5814copy1WshOk, it’s a little early in the season to be obsessed with snow, but it’s still interesting that the valleys remain their tawny, gray and purple November colors while much of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, had enough snow to ski on yesterday. Some of it was shot out of snow guns, but most of it was real. By the way, snow guns are loud and at relatively warm temperatures the manmade snow is wet, so skiing by them is like walking through a cold shower and past a running jet. Alpine skiers and snowboarders seemed to be on almost every trail, hiking up to get their first turns of the year. DSC_5874copyWshDSC_5783copyWshDSC_5840copyWsh DSC_5774copyWsh

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Posted in Skiing, Snow, Vermont

Concert Crawl

DSCF0361DcopyWEBJust your typical zoom-lens shot, but maybe it looks a little like Django Reinhardt sounds. The guitarist is Greg Evans, who performed gypsy jazz with clarinetist Dan Liptak  at the Montpelier Concert Crawl last winter.

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Posted in guitar, jazz

Snow # 1, 2014-15 Season

DSC_8327-copyWMt. Mansfield’s Toll Road today, somewhere above 3,000 feet. It didn’t snow much, but it’s still the first Vermont snow of the season as far as I’m concerned. More to come. DSC_8348-copyW DSC_8340-copyW

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Posted in mountains, Snow, Vermont

Millersburg, PA

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Millersburg, PA, in September. One of those great Susquehanna River towns and home of the last known all-wooden double stern-wheel ferry in America, or so the sign says. Twenty-five miles upriver from Harrisburg.

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Posted in Pennsylvania, small towns, Susquehanna River

Cool Oregon

DSC_3218copyWSHIt was hot and dry when I was in Portland in August, but it’s still extremely cool in Oregon. The Pacific currents that sweep down from Alaska make the water along the coast freezing — in the low 50s — although that doesn’t seem to hamper anybody’s enjoyment of the beach. Above, Cape Lookout State Park. Although the air temperature in Portland is 10 or more degrees warmer than it is on the coast, it’s still an exceedingly cool city, from the ubiquitous bicycles to the hip bungalows and the overflowing produce stands of the downtown farmers market. Below, a night cyclist in the Clinton section of southeast Portland and the Columbia River Gorge at Hood River. Click here for a slideshow of Portland and some of the coast and the Coast Range.DSC_2873copyW

Hood River

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Posted in Oregon, Pacific Coast, Portland

The North Branch Most People Don’t See

DSC_2209copyWSH Vermont Route 12 from Montpelier to Morrisville is a beautiful road, especially in its upper reaches, where it cuts through a near-wilderness of forested hills and along the North Branch of the Winooski River. It’s a road used daily by commuters, tourists, and local trucks. It’s also a major cycling route and you’ll almost always see somebody pedaling up its easy (for Vermont) grades or coasting down them. The road cuts through wetlands and it’s not unusual to see moose and, less commonly, bear.  But most people — except for kayakers who paddle the North Branch when the water’s high enough for them to run the falls and pools — don’t realize that the real beauty is just off the road, where the North Branch cascades through the woods. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Vermont. Access is easy when you know where to go, and some of the people who do know what’s there leave behind beer cans, tires, an occasional sofa, and campsites. The Vermont River Conservancy has been working to preserve the area and to eventually make it better known and appreciated. I’ve been photographing parts of it for the VRC. DSC_2613copyWSHDSC_2609copyWSHDSCF6288copy2WSHDSCF6330copyWSH

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Posted in rivers, Vermont, Watersheds

In the City, Greenpoint

DSC_2447copyW1Family strolling on a Thursday night, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC.

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Posted in Brooklyn, New York City, Night