August 2017

A Great Northern Adventure, Part II

The second part of the adventure was spread over two days during which i got some photos of bridges over the Willamette and experienced the eclipse.  First, the bridges, from Salem south.  Here’s the northernmost bridge in Salem, the Union Street Railroad Bridge which, as you learn from that excellent link in case the absence of tracks didn’t clue you in, is no longer a railroad bridge.

Union Street Railroad Bridge


The nice lady standing there told me how to get up onto the Marion Street Bridge a bit upstream, from which i took this shot.

Union Street Railroad Bridge


Here’s the Marion Street Bridge from the railroad bridge.  That’s the Center Street Bridge upstream beneath it.

Marion Street Bridge


A detail shot of one of the support columns.

Marion Street Bridge


Upstream in Albany, the northernmost bridge is the old swing span railroad bridge variously called “Toledo District Willamette Bridge”, “Willamette River Railroad Bridge”, etc.  It’s supposedly in use, but i somehow doubt that means the swing span is still operational.  From the Lyon Street Bridge.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


And from the bank.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


And one more because i like this angle.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


A quarter mile upstream is the Lyon Street Bridge.

Lyon Street Bridge


And from beneath the Ellsworth Street Bridge.

Lyon Street Bridge


And just beside it, the old Ellsworth Street Bridge.

Ellsworth Street Bridge


And from the side.

Ellsworth Street Bridge


Next, down to Corvallis for the Harrison Street Bridge, from the foot of the Van Buren Street Bridge.

Harrison Street Bridge


Just upstream is the far more interesting Van Buren Street Bridge.

Van Buren Street Bridge


The last bridge in Corvallis is the Corvallis Bypass Bridge.

Corvallis Bypass Bridge


And the final Willamette bridge for this trip is the Owosso Bicycle Bridge in western Eugene.

Owosso Bicycle Bridge


So much for the bridges this trip, but i’ll go back.

The other reason i came to Oregon was to see the total eclipse of the sun, and i’d been planning this for months even though i hadn’t started soon enough to get a motel room for the night of the 20th in the middle of the totality zone and ended up just getting a room in Springfield so i could take bridge photos there and drive north on I-5 the morning of the eclipse.

I’d figured out that the best plan would be to take exit 242, Talbot Road, and work my way west until i could find a place to park and watch the eclipse, so when i woke up in Springfield on the 21st, i set out up I-5 at 5:15.

But then a half mile before Talbot Road i happened on the Santiam River Rest Area, which sits invitingly on the north bank of the river and, unlike country roads, has restrooms.  So i pulled into the rest area at 6:00 AM and found it already jammed.  Helpful Oregon DMV guys were steering us over the low curbs into the adjacent fields where, good citizens that we were, we lined up in orderly rows even though nobody was directing us.

After napping in the car for an hour or so, i pulled the Segway out and headed for the restrooms.  The line was not long and there was still toilet paper.  The bonus was a trailer next door selling coffee, for which the line was longer, but there is great pleasure to be had standing in line with a bunch of people who are all, like you, on one of the greatest adventures of their lives and eager to talk about it.

Back at the car, i chatted with neighbors as we pulled on our eclipse glasses and watched the moon take increasingly large bites out of the sun.   As the day gradually grew dimmer, i noticed a phenomenon about which i’d not read.  Yes, the quantity of light grew less, as expected, but what i’d not anticipated was that its quality was somehow different.  It was yellower than normal for a day when the sun wasn’t bright, since in this case the light was not being filtered through haze or filmy clouds.

Another thing that struck me was, just before totality when the sun was a thin crescent, stepping under an adjacent tree and watching little crescents of light dance wildly around on the grass.  Shoulda taken a video.

When you read about eclipses, a routine observation is that the animals all seem to behave strangely, and i was a bit concerned about missing this phenomenon since i hadn’t seen any little woods critters running around in this field.  But then i realized, oh hey, there are hundreds of medium-size mammals standing around, and i can just observe them.

And sure enough, in the last few seconds before totality, all of ’em were staring at the sun through their little eclipse glasses, and the moment it winked out, they simultaneously uttered a full-throated roar, probably expecting this would frighten the dragon away.

It was utterly surreal standing there during the two minutes of totality under the very dark blue sky with Jupiter shining brightly and the corona of the sun ringing the black moon.  And perhaps the most wonderful moment for me was when, at the end of totality there was suddenly the tiniest pinprick of incredibly bright light at the upper right edge of the moon, at which the mammals uttered a gasp, and they had to immediately put their eclipse glasses back on to watch the pinprick turn rapidly into a growing crescent.

It was worth driving 570 miles for.

And yes, it was still worth it a few minutes later when, while the sun was still a crescent, i got up on I-5 headed south and joined the rest of the folks, the majority sporting California license plates, seeking to beat the rush south for the remaining 570 miles.  I have to say, i’ve never been in a mellower and politer traffic jam.  I saw only one car misbehaving during the entire three hours it took to go the 42 miles to Springfield.

I bailed out in Springfield and spent a couple of hours in mounting frustration trying to get a better photo of the first bridge over the Willamette before i gave up and rejoined the much diminished fray on I-5 until i stopped for the night in Grant’s Pass.  Against all expectations, the drive home the next day was so easy that it was almost an anticlimax, the high point being hitting Bartel’s Giant Burger in Corning thirty minutes before opening time and their going ahead and making me a fine hamburger early.  For which they would have found that afternoon a pleasant surprise at the bottom of their tip jar.

What a great adventure!  The next one will be to buy a drone-mounted camera, develop some expertise flying it, and use it on another expedition to get decent photos of the rest of the bridges over the Sacramento and the Willamette.





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A Great Northern Adventure, Part I

I left San Francisco early in the morning on 19 August, headed north.  My first stop other than gas and lunch was at I-5 exit 707, where i took little dirt Fenders Ferry Road through the woods to the bridge that i just barely photographed last winter since it was late afternoon then and almost dark down at the bottom of the canyon.  That road is nearly impassible in the wintertime, being so rutted and washed out, but it’s well graded in the summertime.  Here it is under the beautiful old I-5 bridge over Dog Creek shortly before it is subsumed by the Sacramento just south of my destination.

I-5 bridge over Puppy Creek


The Fender Ferry Bridge over the Sacramento is just a quarter mile beyond that highway bridge.  Here it is with a little sun on it, wildfires having put a pall of smoke over this entire area.

Fenders Ferry Road Bridge


And the other side.

Fenders Ferry Road Bridge


Back onto I-5 and up to Pollard Flat, exit 712, in high hopes of getting a photo of the North Salt Creek Road bridge over the Sacramento.  I had not been able to get close to it last winter because the unidentified road that i took to be Salt Creek Road was gated shut.  While there’s still no sign saying “Salt Creek Road”, at least the gate was open.

Salt Creek Road


Zoom in on that sign to the right and you’ll see that it reads “Area Closed to Motorized Vehicles.  Others Access at Own Risk.”  How utterly enticing.

So i parked the Prius there and rode the Segway down the road.  The paving ended just after the first bend, but the road was well maintained, and after about a mile through the woods i came to the bridge.

Salt Creek Road Bridge


A feature of the other side of that gate was a stout padlock, so all i could do was get a side shot of the bridge.

Salt Creek Road Bridge


Emboldened by my success in finding this bridge, i ventured off onto a side road in hopes of finding a second bridge nearby, and yep, after only a quarter mile on the side road i spotted this.

Bridge over the Sacramento near the Salt Creek Road bridge.


Got closer and found it also gated and padlocked.

Bridge over the Sacramento near the Salt Creek Road bridge.


But at least i could get a shot from the side.

Bridge over the Sacramento near the Salt Creek Road bridge.


Basking in an adrenaline rush over having bagged both of those bridges about which i could find absolutely nothing on the Internet, i got back up onto I-5 to Sweetbriar, exit 723, where i got this shot of the Falls Avenue Bridge.

Falls Avenue Bridge in Sweetbriar


That purple rose is not growing wild.  The guy in the house next door has extended his garden up to the bridge.  Here’s the other side.

Falls Avenue Bridge in Sweetbriar


Then up to exit 726 for the Soda Creek Road Bridge.

Soda Creek Road Bridge


Note: There are many exits on I-5 at which there is no commercial development, the exit serving only to provide access to the many half-to-well-hidden houses that dot the riverbanks and hillsides.

And then up to Dunsmuir, where the first seven bridges over the Sacramento are found.  The source of the Sacramento is the point a couple of miles west of Lake Siskiyou where the north and south forks of the Sacramento join, but there are no bridges over the Sacramento before it reaches Dunsmuir, the road over the top of the Lake Siskiyou dam not counting as a bridge.  The First Street Bridge, the southernmost bridge in Dunsmuir, was rather a disappointment, as i couldn’t even get a glimpse of it.


Stifling my disappointment, i drove north to the Bridge Street Bridge, where i was more successful.

Bridge Street Bridge in Dunsmuir


Not that a good view was available from either side.

Bridge Street Bridge in Dunsmuir


I had much better luck with the Bush Street Bridge.

Bush Street Bridge in Dunsmuir


And even better luck with the Sacramento Avenue Bridge.

Sacramento Avenue Bridge in Dunsmuir


Other side.

Sacramento Avenue Bridge in Dunsmuir


The next bridge north is the I-5 bridge.

I-5 Bridge in Dunsmuir


And about fifty yards upstream of that, the Dunsmuir Avenue Bridge.

Dunsmuir Avenue Bridge


Here it is in front of the I-5 Bridge.

Dunsmuir Avenue Bridge


And finally, the first bridge over the Sacramento River, the Cave Avenue bridge, another one hard to photograph.

Cave Avenue Bridge in Dunsmuir


Can’t see it any better from the other side.

Cave Avenue Bridge in Dunsmuir


And that’s it for the Sacramento River.  I now have photos of almost all of the bridges over it.  I’m missing that 1st Street Bridge in Dunsmuir and most of the railroad bridges, but i have everything else, and when i get around to it i’ll pull together a photo essay of The Bridges of the Sacramento from the various blog posts i made while gathering the photos over the last year.

I spent the night in Dunsmuir and had dinner at Cafe Maddalena, which i recommend because their grilled octopus appetizer was one of the very best octopus dishes i ever ate.  Not that it’s worth driving to Dunsmuir for, but if you happen to be there at dinnertime on a Thursday – Sunday…..

Tomorrow i drive up to Springfield, OR, but that’s another story.  Stay tuned.


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The Ombraphile

My memory is slipping fast, but at least i can still remember when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.


The ombraphile? you ask.  Well, i take some pride in saying “you heard it here first”, and as of the writing of this post, Bing and DuckDuckGo get no hits on “ombraphile”, and Google gets only one.  Once the spiders have finished crawling, the second hit will be to this site.  ta da.

Late Note: Oh, did i ever slip in under the wire.  I was listening to coverage of the eclipse on NPR as i inched southward on I-5 after totality had passed my viewpoint, and the term was used over and over.  So i should have written, “You read it here first.”

To save you the trouble, it’s a term coined by Richard Schneider for an eclipse chaser, which is what i’m about to be taking a break from unpacking to do.

Later note: At some point along there it occurred to me that Schneider was taking the long way around and creating an unnecessary word when a more logical word for eclipse chaser would be “umbraphile” from “umbra”, the path of complete shade in an eclipse.  Sure enough, a quick check revealed that this word has been in use for many years and was almost certainly what they were saying on NPR.  Oh hell.  Well at least i figured this out by myself.

I’ll combine seeing the eclipse with taking photos of bridges over the Willamette in Oregon and the Sacramento in California, and i hope to be able to put out a post about my adventures up there next week.

A little complication is that i kinda banged myself up in an incident during the move to SF and may not be able to get the Segway into the back of the car by myself.  So i’ll have to choose between leaving it here, which means i wouldn’t have it if i needed it to get better bridge shots, or asking for help loading it, which is as unthinkable as asking for directions.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s a fountain at the Marin County Civic Center.

Marin County Civic Center fountain


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Last Dispatch From Petaluma

I move tomorrow back to the San Francisco zip code i arrived at from Texas in 1975.
I’ll spend today doing the last load of laundry, touching up the cleaning, and packing the computer and monitor (although i’ll save the router until tomorrow morning so as to have my notebook for communication here tonight).  After i pack the router, i’ll have the smart phone and can use that for rudimentary email and the web.

In a couple of minutes i’ll eat the last remaining nectarine with the last remaining cereal.  Will have brunch at McNears, feasting on their superlative Eggs Benedict (not sure i ever ate better) and then eat an early dinner at the good Vietnamese restaurant (alas, i have not found an acceptable Thai restaurant here).

And speaking of restaurants, i got an email yesterday from a friend telling me he’d ratted me out at my favorite neighborhood restaurant in SF.  He ate there the other day and told the owner i was moving back on the 7th, which means i have to prioritize her ahead of my exploration of the restaurants within three blocks of my new place that enjoy high reputations for affordable excellence.  I’ve not eaten in any of them and am excited about working my way through them.

If i hadn’t been told on, i could have explored the new restaurants first and then been vague to the old favorite restauranteur about exactly when i’d moved back.

I’m on cloud nine over this move and caught myself riding extra cautiously on the Segway yesterday.  Once i get back to the city i can resume riding with my usual abandon.  Ummm, maybe with some of it.  Doesn’t take much of a fall to break a bone nowadays, and that’s so inconvenient.

Meanwhile, a skylight shot in the Marin County Civic Center.

skylight - Marin County Civic Center

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Marin County Civic Center

“And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”

Sigh.  Remember when we had some brotherhood?


I had an adventure the other day by taking advantage of one of the free preview rides on our splendid new SMART train.  I brought all my handicap documentation to the Petaluma Downtown station so i could use the Segway, and the station attendants were very helpful in clearing use of it with the main office, this being their first experience with one.  The train pulled out of the station on time at 8:40 AM, and it was a very pleasant thirty-minute ride to the Marin Civic Center station, easier than driving and just as fast.  The only downside was that the handicap area for wheelchairs and Segways is configured without windows, so to see the countryside you have to get diagonal glimpses through windows in adjacent areas.

I rode the Segway the quarter mile from the station to the Marin County Civic Center.  Here’s another link more focused on the architecture, perhaps second only to the Guggenheim as Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece.  I spent a couple of hours taking photos inside it, had a tasty lunch at the nearby Chalet Basque restaurant and returned to the center for more photos until i tired of it and rode back to the SMART train station for my return to Petaluma.

The helpful station agent recommended that i take the approaching southbound train to the Downtown San Rafael station (the next station and the end of the line) and remain on it so i’d be guaranteed a seat for the return to Petaluma, and i took his advice.  Thank goodness i did because when i tried to board, the cop at the door wouldn’t let me on.  I explained that i was a disabled veteran who’d taken the train here this morning from Petaluma, but he was adamant – No entry with the Segway.  And then the doors slammed shut.

I was stunned. How in the world am i going to get home? I returned to the station agent with my tale of woe, and he commiserated.  He pointed out that there were two doors at the center of the train for the handicapped, and the cop couldn’t be at both doors at the same time, so all i had to do was pick the other door to get home.

And that’s what i did.  Had to stand, but i was so grateful for being on the train that standing wasn’t a bother.

But what about the photos? Well, here’s a bunch:

The SMART train pulling into the Petaluma station.

SMART train at Petaluma station


South entry to the Civic Center.


There are long skylights in the center of the building and cutouts in the center of the floors so that some natural light penetrates all the way to the ground floor.  Here’s a shot on the second floor.

Marin Civic Center - second floor


Do i love the skylights and landscaping or what?

Marin County Civic Center - landscaping



Marin County Civic Center - detail


Terrace outside the cafeteria.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


From the terrace.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


Outside the restaurant.

Marin County Civic Center - terrace


The north wing, from the terrace.

Marin County Civic Center - north wing


Roof detail.

Marin County Civic Center - roof detail


More interior landscaping.

Marin County Civic Center - interior landscaping


Pleasant terrace at the south end.

Marin County Civic Center - south terrace


North entrance.

Marin County Civic Center - north entrance


Roof detail.

Marin County Civic Center - roof detail


And now, a structure across the street, the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, built in 1971 to harmonize with Wright’s civic center.

Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium


And finally, the north wing of the civic center is the Hall of Justice, and it originally included a jail.  However, as time went on and Marin residents grew naughtier and naughtier, a larger jail was needed.  So the exiting jail was renovated into offices for people more deserving of the views, and a new jail was dug into an adjacent hillside.  There’s a tunnel from the Hall of Justice through which the freshly convicted can be frog marched to their new home.  Those windows are for the warden’s office only.  To date, nobody has succeeded in digging his way out of one of the subterranean cells.


Marin County Jail


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