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Portland: A Great Town

Somehow I've always had good luck in Portland. Like a few years ago coming into town cold and ending up at the Stumptown Coffee Roasters, great coffee, wi-fi, hip young people. And then going for a run in the park on Mount Tabor (inside city limits) and discovering it's a mecca of downhill skateboarding...
I rolled into Portland just after dark last night and punched in "hotels" in my Garmin Nuvi GPS. This miraculous device lists the hotels closest to where your car is positioned (which it knows!). Closest was a Travelodge and upon arriving, it looked dismal. Another nearby hotel was the Avalon Hotel and Spa and I hit the jackpot. Much nicer hotel than I usually stay at, this would be $350 a night in NYC, but was about $110. Everything elegant, well thought out. Plus the spas part was fabulous. Big gym, fully equipped, good-working sauna, great way to start the day.
I'm now at Powell's bookstore, where I'm going to do a slide show and signing in a half hour. Powelll's is fantastic, a full block, 3 stories of books-books-books. Just now wandering around the neighborhood looking for a meal I stumbled upon Jake's Famous Crawfish (Since 1892), a lively, brassy, hustling popular good-vibes restaurant and had an Oregon draft porter and steamed mussels. Music was Al Green, Aretha, the Stones, and as I got ready to leave, Otis...O she may be weary, young girls they do get weary...

Red Oregon Barn

By side of road near Carlton on Hwy 47, southwest of Portland. Notice how straight the eave line is, meaning the barn's foundation is sound — no sag.

Notes From the Pacific Coast Road

In Arcata someone told me the burnouts that hang out in the town square are "trustafarians." You know, east coast families sending the family screwups to California. You can do anything out west and people will put up with it, sad to say. And the rest of the game seems to be that the trust fund babies hit California and pretend to be poor, or just making it. Yeah, right.
Wordplay in roadside signs:
• "Burning Slash"" (Slash=branches left over in the woods after logging)
• "Wind Gust"
• "Pistol River"
• Coffee shop in Brandon, Oregon: "Brewed Awakenings." Ever notice how many hair salons have wordplay names, like "Shy Locks?"
It's always a relief to get out of California. Oregon just feels more relaxed. I had a few days before my Portland event so came along the Oregon Coast. Port Orford is nice, with a unique port where they have a cable-powered trolly for launching boats. Florence is a pretty nice town. Yachats is a little gem of a town, with sparkling ocean air, small cottages, nice little cabins that can be rented + the Green Salmon Bakery and coffee shop with a chef that doesn't know it, but she's world class. I haven't been along this coast for 30+ years and it's a lot nicer in the non-summer months, when tourists are not out in force. Mile after mile of deserted sandy beaches. Much of the drive is right along the beaches. There are a series of concrete bridges that look art deco. Gas is $1.94/gal. (A friend of mine said recently that gas should be $10/gal., the true cost to the planet.)
I've got into the habit of taking small country roads when possible, and always seeking out routes not taken before. Today I was on Hwy 47 coming into Portland, stopping to shoot pictures of little sheds and shacks and barns and a program came on the radio about bands in New Orleans. They played a lot of Fats Domino. If I had to pick one musician who had the biggest impact on me, it'd have to be Fats. I first heard him played by my friend Sherman Welpton when I was 18 (1953), and it was an introduction to Rhythm and Blues and eventually the world of blues. Fats has always made me happy. Today I pulled off the road to eat my takeout smoked turkey sandwich from the Green Salmon Bakery, and was facing a green furrowed pasture hill when on came Blueberry Hill. Up with the volume.
I met my thrill
on Blueberry Hill...

Log Tree House

Maple Island Handcrafted Log Homes produces about 40 homes a year. Most (from pics on website) appear to be mega-houses, but this one is a charmer:

Log boathouse:


Clover Milk Ads

For decades, Clover has been coming up with funny ad lines. I still remember one from years ago: "Tip Clo Through the Two Lips." The below was on the side of a truck in Pt Arena a few days ago:


Shack Near Point Arena

I've started shooting a lot of photos of very small buildings for what may very well be our next book: tiny houses.

Book Signing in Arcata

It was advertised pretty well and there was a full house at Northtown Books in Arcata last night.

Also, Northtown Books had our poster and three of our building books in the window.

I did my slide show from Builders of the Pacific Coast and talked about my travels shooting the book's photos. There were about a dozen high school kids there and they had never seen stuff like this before. I continue to get amazing feedback from people, about being inspired by our building books. It's really gratifying.
A couple of discoveries in Arcata: The Finnish Country Sauna at 5th & J, a wonderful sauna facility with a lot of good carpentry/Los Bagels, clean, cheerful bakery with good latte and excellent baked goods/The North Coast Journal is a mighty fine little free newspaper with good writing and imaginative layout.

Nighttime Eureka

I did my first slide show of the trip Wednesday night at the Four-Eyed Frog bookstore in the coastal town of Gualala. Yesterday I headed north for my next appearance in Arcata, the cool coastal town that's home to Humboldt State College. I can hardly go 5 miles down the road without stopping to shoot photos. The older I get, the more interesting I find the world. It looks like our next building book will be on tiny houses, and I'm shooting lots of small farm buildings for prototypes of practical small-scale construction.
I stayed in Eureka last night, catching up on email and downloading photos via a good Wi-Fi connection at a Best Western motel. Here are a few pics from last night:

A great hometown brewpub. I had two pints of Downtown Brown ale and a huge Chinese chicken salad for $16.

Across the street from the pub; perspective on this 2-shot panorama is a little whacked, but you get the idea.

Billboard on 4th Street. Note: know thy grower. There's a lot of chemicalized mota out there.

My Dome in Life Magazine

In a previous life, I built geodesic domes, and my dome was featured in Life in the early '70s, so I did a search in the newly-available Life archives for "domes," and found it:

I was also the publisher of Domebook 2, the countercultural bible of domebuilding, but after 5 years of dome building and dome living, I concluded that domes didn't work as homes, and were in fact, a poorer and less practical way of enclosing space as compared to rectilinear construction. I took Domebook 2 out of print (and went out and shot photos for our book Shelter). I kept getting so many inquiries as to why I gave up on domes that I published a newsprint booklet titled Refried Domes, to answer all the questions. If you're a dome fan and wonder why in the world I gave up on such an exciting concept, please don't write me, but go to the link above and read everything on our website about domes.

Life Magazine Photo Archives Going Online — 10 Million Photos!!

Hail to the Internet! For me this is thrilling news, having been a Life magazine fan for many years. From the Guardian (UK), dated Nov 19 '08:
One of the biggest photo collections in the world that ranges from the 1880s through to the seminal moments of the 20th century and on into the present day was made available to the public online yesterday. The bulk of the archive is from Life magazine, the premier platform for photojournalists in the 20th century. About 10 million images will eventually be available, from Marilyn Monroe and JFK to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. About 97% of the pictures have never been seen before.
Google announced yesterday it had done a deal with Life to put their pictures online. Also available is work from other archives, much of it collected by the former Time publisher Henry Luce. The collection includes the entire works of Life photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili and Nina Leen. Also available are: the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York from the 1880s; and Hugo Jaeger Nazi-era Germany 1937-1944... About 20% of the collection went online yesterday.


Louie's Sailboat in the Water

After many years, Louie's sailboat, the Roy Fox, is in the water in the harbor just south of Fort Bragg. Junk-rigged sail. Louie just finished building the cabin and outfitting it for travel on the high seas. Framing is white oak; planking is lapstrake old-growth clear Douglas Fir attached with copper rivets. Deck is teak over marine plywood. It's immaculate. Louie plans to sell it eventually. As we motored out of the harbor, another sailor on the dock called out, "Beautiful!"
Louie is going to sail it for a while, maybe down the coast to Mexico, then put it up for sale.

Louie and Lloyd at the gas station in Pt. Arena; photo at right makes you wonder about buying a used boat from this man.

Roadside Pix

These were shot in the early morning on my way up Highway One to visit my friend Louie in Pt. Arena. I've shot photos of this little shed numerous times. To me the proportions are perfect:

Turkey buzzards sunning themselves just south of Jenner:

More From Green Festival in San Francisco

Teardrop Trailer

Here's a cool little trailer that was in the parking lot for exhibitors this morning.

I just went online and found plans for making one of these at http://www.desertteardrops.com/

A little web research yielded that these have been around for well over half a century and::
Teardrops get their name from their aerodynamic shape, intended to make them easier to tow, although not all of them are teardrop-shaped. One trait they have in common, however, is their size: generally they are no more than 12 feet long and no wider or taller than 6 feet. Inside, there is room for a 54-inch by 78-inch mattress, just about right for two adults. Most teardrops have two side doors and a rear hatch that opens to reveal a camp kitchen or pantry. From: the New York Times

Green Festival 2008 San Francisco

It's been a warm weekend. Huge crowds here at the festival. We're selling a lot of books. We've given out over 700 copies of our new catalog of books and so far about 120 copies of our new 4-color poster of Builders of the Pacific Coast.

New Lightweight Wind Turbine Can Be Hooked to Grid

I ran across this lightweight electricity-generating wind turbine at the Green Festival in San Francisco today.

Company specs:
Size:Blade/Ring Diameter: 7 feet/ Minimum clearance from roofline: 2 feet
Rated power output: 1.5kW @ 14 m/s / Annual Power Supplied: up to 2000 kWh
Electric power: 240VAC, 60Hz output voltage / can feed into grid
Noise: less than 35 decibels for all wind speeds
More info at: http://www.swiftwindturbine.com

On the Streets in San Francisco

I haven't lived in a city since age 17, but I grew up in San Francisco and love the urban rush when I come in. I find LOTS of interesting things going on. Bombarded with stimulation. Here are a few pics from this morning. (Lew and I are in the city for 3 days selling books at the Green Festival.)
Kalissa and her mom Katina dressed in American colors celebrating you-know-what. I said to her I finally feel good about being an American again.

Wire motorcycle model at a very cool cafe, MotoJava, on 9th & Bryant

Free Woodworking Plans

This is a website with free plans for a ton of woodworking projects: http://www.freewoodworkingplan.com/

"Waldspirale" ("Forest Spiral") Apartment House in Darmstadt by Hundertwasser

Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser has designed what has become one of the more unique and visually stimulating buildings in the world. Built betwwen 1998 and 2000, it has over 1000 unique windows, individualized handles on windows and doors, a living roof, café, parking garage, restaurant, bar, playground, and a running stream, the Waldspirale in Darmstadt, Germany is an architectural wonder. More here.

Bread, Rain, and Fire

Last night just after it got dark, Lesley pulled 3 loaves of fresh-baked bread out of the oven and the aroma filled the kitchen.

It was a cold night and a fire was blazing. Some drops of unexpected rain started to fall, we could hear them on the fiberglas skylight. I've come to cherish rain lately, partly due to mushroom hunting, but also due to recent dry years. I stepped outside and looked up, letting the rain hit my face. Why not let it hit me all over? I ran inside, ripped my clothes off, and stepped out into the storm. I turned my face up and extended arms out with palms up. Rain pouring, wind howling, total skin surface wet, yes! After a minute or so I stepped back in, grabbed a towel and stood by the fire. My circulation was racing, skin tingling, mojo working. How simple it can be: interaction with nature, tuning in to what's there at the moment, and falling in with it.

Art in Berkeley/Old House in San Francisco

These are two of the paintings on the wall of the Fertile Grounds Cafe on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. They are by artist Tom Clarke, in an exhibit titled Games People Play.

The artist writes:
The ball is inanimate.
The players animate the ball.

The players are inanimate.
They animate themselves.

At moments of contact they animate each other.
The ball hangs before or between them in suspended animation,
its movement both product and cause of their movements,
defining the space in which they move.


Earlier that day I discovered this intricately decorated old house half hidden by bouganvillea in an industrial neighborhood in San Francisco:

Buell Lightning Motorcycle

Pic and video sent us by Pepe Alvarez

Greenbydesign Blog

This is a great blog about green building and sustainable design: http://greenbydesign.com/

"Little House On the Trailer," built by Stephen Marshall of Inverness, California, as shown on the greenbydesign blog

Otis Redding Singing "I've Been Loving You Too Long"

Black and white live footage of Otis at the Monterey Pop Festival