Thursday, April 4, 2013

Living Out of Suitcases, or Our Whirlwind Car Trip to Two Sand States

It's nice to be home. Mrs Elliott and I just returned from a 12-night car trip. It went like this:

Day 1: We drove down highway 97 to Weed, then took Interstate 5 to Vacaville, Calif., to visit the elder of Mrs. Elliott's sons and his grandchildren. Overnighted at a Motel 6. Typical "brick in a parking lot" motel. I couldn't live there. Too crowded, too generic.

Day 2: Drove to Denair, Calif., to visit the grandchildren of the younger of of Mrs. Elliott's sons. Then to Murphys, Calif., in the Sierra foothills to tourist. Stayed at the historic Murphys Hotel, in the new building. The room was a typical modern motel room. No character but okay. However, Murphys is a popular destination with the Harley crowd which makes for a lot of noise in motel parking lots, partly due to the unnecessary noise of the machines and the drink beer and party nature of the riders. Harley riders never class up a place. But we liked the town a lot -- plenty of ladyshopping for Mrs Elliott, tons of wine tasting for Jack, good restaurants. Best fish tacos we've ever had (at Firewood). Bought several bottles of good Calaveras county wine.

Day 3: Decided to stay another night in Murphys and moved to the Victoria Inn, a nice bed and breakfast off the main street. As is normal for bed and breakfasts, the room was a bit ticky-boo and quirky. But it was quiet and comfortable. I couldn't live there -- the only music is old guys playing Bluegrass. But I could vacation there for a week or two.

Day 4: Drove to Encinitas, Calif., to visit Mrs Elliott's mother, who is in her 80s and ailing, in and out of the hospital. We stayed at a Days Inn -- another brick in a parking lot motel -- and checked out in the morning. I've lived in San Diego North county.

Day 5: Decided to stay another day visiting with Becky, which we did. We returned to the same Days Inn for a second night.

Day 6: More visiting, then a drive to Palm Springs in time for wandering up and back the main drag and some dinner. I didn't find the town very interesting, the restaurants were uninspired, the shops typical. Stayed at the Comfort Inn, which was newly-refurbished. Perfectly acceptable. I could not live in Palm Springs: too generic, didn't charm me. I've lived in stucco and sand places before.

Day 7: Drove on the I-10 to Phoenix, or more accurately to Sun City West "Geezerabad," to visit H. Bruce Miller and his lovely wife Sharon who are wintering in a nice little bungalow, or casita. They've just bought a new house down near Tucson, in Oro Valley, where they feel they will be more comfortable than in Bend. They will be listing their classic early '60s ranch-style house here this summer. Fingers crossed for an easy sale with a good price. We enjoyed a fine barbecue dinner, wines, and Bruce and I shared Scotch and cigars, all courtesy of our hosts. I slept well. I could not live in that region: another endless and character-free southland sprawl of monotonous houses and generic stores.

Day 8: Drove back to Encinitas on the I-8, a dull dull drive, to check in with Becky again, then to Los Angeles for the night. Lodging in Los Angeles is really hit or miss. Most places were either creepy and run down or too pricey for us. Several years ago we stayed at a somewhat ratty Comfort Inn, and didn't want to stay there again. We drove around the town after dark checking out one place after another, getting more and more tired. We finally decided to try the Azul Motel listed on which turned out the be that same damn Comfort Inn under new name and management. We just gave in and got a room. It was fine.

Day 9: Visited with Mrs Elliott's father and stepmother for breakfast then drove north -- north! Finally, my back turned to the southlands, the states of sand and stucco. We drove up the 101, had lunch in Carpinteria -- where we agreed we could live -- then through Santa Barbara, my town of birth, over the San Marcos pass into Santa Ynez which has grown plenty in the intervening years and is now a serious wine-growing region with nice shops and restaurants and wine-tasting places in the town. Bought several bottles of wine. Then continued onward to Avila Beach, a nice rustic beach town. Stayed at the Avila Beach Inn, which like most beachy places seems to be in a continual state of disrepair. I couldn't live there -- absolutely nothing to do, but it was quite enjoyable for the night.

Day 10: We continued northward on 101. I had hoped to visit a wine store in Paso Robles and maybe get some good local zins, but it was a Sunday and all the shops were closed in the morning. So that didn't work out so good. We continued the drive and had lunch in Carmel-by-the-sea, which, if you've ever been there, you know has more high-end art galleries and clothing stores than it has people. Then to Santa Cruz to visit my daughter who is spring breaking with her boyfriend. She goes to UC Irvine, he to UC Santa Cruz. Dinner on the wharf at a tourist restaurant. We stayed at the Casablanca Inn and Bistro, a quirky hotel above the boardwalk. The bistro was closed until further notice. The man behind the glassed-in front desk looked like John Waters and spoke to us through a grill. Mrs Elliott wanted to visit the arcade on the boardwalk where we bought a bunch of tokens, played a trivia game, a shoot 'em up fake rifles test of skill game, and a pretend you're a musician by pounding on an electronic drum kit along with your song of choice game/activity. It was fun. But the town was too crowded for me, and about that time I was getting tired of feeling sticky due to the damp and cool marine air.

Day 11: To the Napa Valley. I lived in Napa for a few years when I was a kid and liked the area. Mrs Elliott and I stopped briefly in town to buy some wines at  Back Room Wines, a wine shop with a good reputation, and they recommended that when we got into the valley to stop at Plumpjack winery for a taste. Which we did. There, we bought a bottle or two and walked out with a short list of wineries they felt were making good examples of Napa Valley vintages. We didn't know where we were going to stay, but it being an off-season Monday we reckoned we'd have options. I had been told by our friend Michael Hill to try to have a meal in Yountville in one of the five-star restaurants there, but lodging in Yountville is out of our price range and we didn't find a ladyshopping area that attracted Mrs Elliott so we continued up to St. Helena which looked all right and we got a room just down the highway at the El Bonita motel. Because we were about a mile south of town and wanted to have dinner and wine without risking a DUI, we called for a cab to give us a lift. The ride was about three minutes and the fee was $20. The taxis in the area are not a good deal. After dinner we shopped a bit then took public transport on the Vine bus back to the motel for $1.50 apiece. We felt this to be a somewhat better deal.

Day 12: Agreeing that St. Helena wasn't much of a town for our type of touristing, we shifted to Calistoga, a few miles north on the highway, got a room at the Golden Haven spa, booked spa treatments for the evening, arranged for a driver to take us around the wineries, packed a picnic lunch, and visited several very nice places, including the don't-miss Castillo di Amorosa, which is a lovely winery (though the wines aren't all that). We finished our tour at the von Strasser winery where Rudy von Strasser, the owner, gave us a tour. The mobile bottling service was bottling Rudy's wines at the time so we also got to watch a modern wine bottling system at work. From all these wineries, we bought more wines. But after all that tasting we had to dry out before our spa treatments at 7:30 so we ate lightly in the room. The spa treatments we had booked were: mud bath then mineral springs jacuzzi soak then warm blanket wrap then massage. I didn't care much for the mud bath: the sulfur smell of the natural hot springs water combined with the gritty mixture of clay and peat moss to give the impression that I was laying in a trough of hot liquid manure. I was thankful when we got out and could shower each other off. I reckon I could live in the Napa valley as it is a beautiful place, so long as I could afford it and didn't mind the horrific traffic on the highway and the Silverado Trail during high season.

Day 13: A nine-hour drive back to Bend, mostly up the I-5 then highway 97. We stopped in Weed and ate lunch at the excellent Asian-American Barbecue shop. We got home at 4:30 pm. It was uneventful.

I am thankful to be home.

What I Learned On This Trip: I know how to pack for when we are going to stay in a single location for a few nights. But this kind of travel, where one stays only one night at each location, requires a different kind of packing. One doesn't have the luxury of unpacking a suitcase and using the closets and drawers; instead, one is living out of one's suitcase. None of the places we stayed had elevators, and first floor rooms are usually the first to be booked, so heavy suitcases are a nuisance when trodding up and down stairs. I'm not quite sure how to improve on how I packed, but I will think about it.

And always bring audiobooks. Any trips where one is driving a few hundred miles a day is bound to take one through long boring stretches. We listened to all of The Bone Bed -- Patricia Cornwell's excellently-detailed and researched crime mystery, and almost all of John Grisham's The Litigators. It appears that mysteries are a nice compromise between Mrs Elliott's and my taste in reading.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

We Pause for this Birthday

I turned 63 yesterday! Jeepers!

Mrs Elliott took me out for dinner last night. She asked me where I wanted to go, and I picked Bōken, downtown. The food there is wonderful: densely-flavored and rewarding. If you are a fan of mild, "safe" foods, if two or three chilies are too "devilish" for you, then Bōken is not for you; but if you appreciate and seek "challenging" food, check the place out.

Just before the soup arrived, my beloved 22 year-old daughter called to wish me a happy birthday. We briefly discussed how school was going, and (here's the Big Deal for me), it was at that moment that I realized that I don't have to fret about her any more.

She's going to be okay: My girl child has things under control. I can relax, Dad can let go now. She is intelligent and autonomous, "launched," and has a Plan.

So while that thought was settling in, the soup arrived. Being totally about me, I knew that daughters are for a lifetime, but hot soup is ephemeral. So I had to say goodbye to my sweet daughter.

Me talking to the best daughter a man can have. Soup had not yet arrived.
The food was lovely, we came home, I built a fire, we basked. Mrs Elliott and I stayed up late last night.

Today, Sunday, has been a mellow day. We went to the Victorian cafe for breakfast, I had a couple Bloody Marys.

Mrs Elliott originally had plans to go to drive to Bachelor for skiing, but the truth is, she and I have only enough energy to putter about. (See "Mrs Elliott and I stayed up late last night.", above.)

Today, she's been banging about downstairs, building office furniture from Office Depot for her new office while I've been doing computer geek stuff on her company computers.

While I was staring at a warning screen from a third-party firewall application, my dear son, who runs on his own schedule, called to wish me a happy birthday-- it was a day late but that's how the boy rolls and I'm good with it. He invited me and the missus out for dinner tomorrow night. I'm pleased.

I requested Sweet Saigon. It ain't great Vietnamese food for aficionados (my former technician, Phan Dai, a Vietnamese guy, tasted their offerings at Pho Viet cafe out on 3rd and pronounced it to be "uninteresting"), but their VS1 sandwich is -- to me -- stunningly delicious.

So that's my choice. It's cheap and easy, and what my son can afford.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Got Sidetracked

I was working on Part 2 of my multi-part story about my research into the old rail spur beside Wall Street Storage when I got sidetracked (heh) by some computer issues in Mrs Elliott's company.

It started with the hard drive on Mrs Elliott's computer -- the computer she uses and which also serves the company accounting files with the bookkeeper. It was making some funny sounds, and the machine crashed a couple times.

So my attention was deservedly diverted.

I ran some diagnostics on the drive and, yep, it came up as an unhappy camper.

Paul Spencer (of Paul the Computer Guy) said that the drive needed to be backed up immediately and the data cloned it to a new drive.  I ran the backup, then drove the machine to his shop for the cloning.

That was Friday morning of last week.

Later that same day, they called to say that while the cloning went fine, the machine was running slower than they felt it should, so they were going to scan it over the weekend for viruses.

(Computer viruses are a rather small subset of what is known as "malware" or malicious software: an umbrella term for all sorts of computer nasties. Wikipedia says that malware

[...] includes computer virusesransomwarewormstrojan horsesrootkits,keyloggersdialersspywareadware, malicious BHOsrogue security software, and other malicious programs; the majority of active malware threats are usually worms or trojans rather than viruses.)

This worried me. Were malware found on Mrs Elliott's computer, then other company computers might be infected, too. So over the weekend I scanned the other computers and while most came up clean, one was hosting a kind of trojan called a Browser Helper Object, or "BHO," and another had a malicious rootkit. I scrubbed them both, but I was troubled.

To be fair, I have a good firewall between the office and the big bad wild world of the Internet, I have a  good and strong anti-virus program on all the computers (except for my personal Linux machine which doesn't need it, a-hem), and I recently rebuilt the wireless network in the building so that visitors and employees with mobile devices are restricted to a "guest" wireless network which keeps them from accessing the company computer resources. I thought we were fairly safe.

Anyway, on Monday, when I picked up Mrs Elliott's computer after Paul the Computer Guy's shop, they reported that no malware was found on it. There were a few extraneous processes they found running that might have slowed it down a bit, but nothing malicious.

But still. One computer with a trojan and one with a rootkit. I needed to take a harder look at what IT people consider to be Best Practices for small office/home office (SOHO) computer security.

So, rather than catching my reader up on the fascinating story about the old rail spur that was put in in 1910 to go to the old Bend Flour Mill, I've been geeking about, reading articles, harmonizing the update schedules on all the company computers for such vulnerable software as the Microsoft Windows operating system, and Adobe Reader, and Adobe Flash, and Oracle's (laughably exploitable) Java, and Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers, and Mozilla Thunderbird (email), and setting up malware scanners, testing sandboxing applications, Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), and secure DNS providers, -- and, just in case I wasn't being thorough enough -- writing up Acceptable Use agreements for the computers and the network for the employees to sign.

The bases, for Mrs Elliott's company, I am trying to cover. Oy.

Railroads, old rights of way, maps and ancient Bend Bulletin stories have been backburnered. I will return to my story soonest.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Handicapped for Hip-Hop

Jack went to see Method Man at the Domino Room last night. Jack is an older white gentleman and the crowd last night was pretty much all 2-1/2 to 3 times younger than him. Jack was at a disadvantage, music-wise, but not necessarily due to his whiteness or age, but for another reason.

Let me explain.

First of all, the crowd was a lot of fun. The place was packed and the energy was high. There were three, roughly, opening acts (members kind of blended with each other, for example, Mike Fish [Person People] was onstage with other artists), and more than a few folk provided DJ function.

Wearing my black Wu-Tang hoodie I hoped to avoid mocking from the younger people, but it probably wasn't needed. The kids were fine.

I arrived early enough to snag one of the few bar stools upstairs and drag it to the front of the balcony (this being my plan to avoid standing all evening long, something we elders try to avoid). As the place filled, a fellow, about 24 years old, said "Great seat!"

I said yeah, but the problem is that if you go to the bar and don't have someone to hold the seat, you'll lose it.

He asked what I was drinking.

He left, then, returning a few minutes later, handed me a fresh drink.

Seeing my surprise, he said, "Yeah. I'm that guy."

The guy who kindly brings a codger a drink at his seat. Nice guy.

I stayed for about half of Method Man's set, then took a cab home. Mrs Elliott was asleep when I let myself into the house, I kissed her when I got into bed.

And reflected that I would have gotten a lot out of the music were it not for my handicap. You see, I have "lyric blindness," an unofficial phrase that means I don't hear the words in songs. You know that song by Adele that had all the ladies crying last year? I've heard it many times -- I have no idea what she's singing about. In fact, I have no idea what singers sing about, ever.

It's not due to not listening or not paying attention. I hear the words, but the part of my brain that tries to process the voices is overwhelmed by the part that listens to the music. I hear the music, I hear the parts the instrumentalists are playing, I hear the beat, I hear the sound of the voice. But what they're singing about? Not so much.

Musicals, much beloved by many, are boring to me. I saw "Rent" a few years ago. It might as well have been in Italian. Which is fine, because I like "La Boheme", the opera by Pucinni, a lot. And listening to folk sing in a foreign language means that I don't need to worry about trying to tease meaning out of the sounds coming out of the singers's mouths.

Poetry is baffling to me. That might be associated.

Anyway, the problem I have with hip-hop isn't cultural or because I'm old or white, it's because what hip-hop is about is the poetry, the words, the stories and feelings. And without having a sense of what they're talking about, the music just isn't that interesting.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Food and Music in February in Bend

Mrs Elliott has two ladyfriends visiting from the Southland. Betty and Veronica -- not real names, a blonde and a brunette, both smart and beautiful -- are house guests this weekend. They are presently out shopping and I am preparing tonight's dinner:  Filipino Chicken Adobo, Garlic Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes," and Roasted Hearts of Romaine Salad; the latter with white anchovies and EVO dressing. With a very fine viogner that was being tasted at Newport Market this afternoon.

I don't normally find viogner interesting but this, from 3 Horse Ranch, is nice.

Tonight, the oven will be @ 450 degrees F for the roastage of the Romaine so it will be too hot for plate warming, so I'm trying to MacGyver (hack, create) a plate warmer from a three-holer stainless steel buffet tray/warming tray that we own.

The idea is sound but the towels I'm using to keep the plates separate from the hot bottom of the tray smell like a high-school locker room while they are warming and drying and I don't know why. They are freshly-laundered, and have no business smelling like that. I'll see if they lose the odor as they dry and heat. In the meantime: Feh.

I'm going out on Monday night to hear the Central Oregon Symphony Orchestra play at the Bend High auditorium. I've written about this orchestra before. The members are all volunteers and they sound great. The has conductor done a fine job of bringing them all together, and the hall has excellent acoustics. It seats thousands of people (number not before me) and it's always filled for all three nights. BTW, I have been a lifelong lover of the classics and have heard several world-class orchestras in some of the finest concert halls so I know good when I hear it.

Ralph Vaughn Williams's viola concerto and other items are on the program.

I've sent out emails to everyone I know to find someone to share the tickets with me.

While I'm not a great RVW fan -- the Brits are boring -- I'm lucky to have the opportunity to hear some of the world's best classical music played well in a good-sounding space right here in tiny little Central Oregon.

I hope that someone I know knows someone who wants to fill the seat beside me.

And then on Wednesday: some real hip-hop. A buddy and I (he's another old white guy like me) will be staying up late to see Method Man at the Domino room.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Long-vanished Rail Spur leads to Location of Bend's Old Flour Mill (pt. 1)

(If you receive this post via email, you may wish to view it directly by opening the link. There are plenty of photos and maps.)

Part 1 
Wall Street Storage Building holds Key to Old Rail Spur

Wall Street Storage sits close to the north end of Wall St. near Olney Avenue. It is a great hulking building of wood timbers, constructed back in the day when lumber was easy to come by in Bend and 12 by 12s were a foot across. Inside, buzzing sodium-vapor lights hung from the ceiling 20 feet overhead cast pale yellow light throughout the vast space, illuminating a warren of aisles and storage spaces, large and small, divided and partitioned by plywood sheets.

Entry is through a small door up a short flight of stairs at the front of the building. A powerful spring keeps the door closed at all times, and a security camera surveys the entry hall. The air inside is cool in summer and dead cold in winter. 

Jack and Mrs Elliott rent a small space on the lower level, a space for our personal and business tax and accounting records, unused trinkets, old photograph albums, and a whole lot of seasonal items. In winter, boxes of Halloween and Christmas decorations and wrapping paper come out of storage and move into our garage, while summer's toys -- camping equipment, deflated vinyl rafts -- leave our garage and move into the storage space.

Other than the buzz of the lamps, it's generally quiet inside.

Mrs Elliott finds the place gloomy and forbidding, but Jack is fascinated with old buildings, old properties. 

A tale of discovery of some old Bend history

Jessica Woodmansee has been manager of the facility since 2007. She has an inquisitive mind, takes delight in arcane facts, and finds old buildings intriguing. When I visited the place to rent a space around 2011, she offered to show me around and describe some of its history--and I was pleased to take that nickel tour. 

She said that the building dated from 1939. Called "Hudson House," it was built by Portland-based wholesale grocer Hudson-Duncan. In the office she sifted through a stack of papers and pulled out a manila folder containing old newspaper clippings. A photograph, from a July 31 1939 Bend Bulletin story (page number unknown, the online archive of this edition is missing seven pages) was photocopied into two halves. The manila folder may contain the only remaining evidence of the photo.
Composite image of front of Hudson House, 1939 made by crudely pasting together the two halves of the photocopy. Across the front are loading docks for trucks. "Hudson House, Inc." can be seen on the south, left, wall. Click to embiggen.

It's a vast building: 20,000 square feet on the top floor, 12,000 square feet in the basement, according to this article in the March 3 1939 issue of the Bend Bulletin.
Interior of warehouse after completion. The photo does not give the scale of the place. The ceiling is easily 20 feet high. Photo courtesy Wall Street Storage.

But what really caught my eye were three large, counterweighted doors on the south side. This is door No. 5:
Door No. 5 is located closest to Wall Street. Doors No. 6 and 7 are spaced along the side, respectively closer to the western (back, river) side of the building.
According to Woodmansee, when Hudson-Duncan was serving Central Oregon with groceries, produce, and goods these doors were used to load and unload freight from box cars parked on a railway spur alongside the building.

The Adventure Begins

Old infrastructure and trains are catnip to Jack. Better than single-malt Scotch whisky.

Like a stale madeleine, the freight doors lingered in my memory. Earlier this year, while shifting some household possessions into or out of our storage space, I took a few minutes and looked at the outside of the building. There was no sign of the old freight doors: they had been covered; nor were there any clear indications of tracks alongside or near the building.

Here is a historic shot of the building:

Front of Hudson House (Courtesy Bend Bulletin, July 31, 1939)
And the building today.
February, 2013. The front loading area is now completely enclosed to provide more space for storage inside. (Jack Elliott)
Sighting eastward toward the railroad tracks (now on the other side of the parkway), I saw that the south side of the building across the street (1340 NW Wall St.), is aligned with the south side of the storage facility, and paralleled by a line of pylons -- big utility poles --  all the way to the parkway.

Here's an aerial shot (click to embiggen):
Satellite photo of Wall Street Storage with notations. The side of the Wall Street Storage building closest to the bottom of the picture is blank on the outside, but the freight doors are visible inside. The long arrow pointing eastward across the street toward the parkway and the railway is the likely route of the old rail spur. (Photo courtesy Google Maps.) 
Power lines often follow railway rights of way, and the alignment of the south sides of the two buildings suggested that they had once abutted something. My guess was that there had been tracks there.

Calling in Backup

If there were tracks, there surely must be a record of them. So far I had nothing but supposition. 

I needed help.  

And I knew just the man to contact: Michael Hill of Sweeney Pond, Alsea, Ore., a genuine cartophile (map lover); student of: surveying notation, township & range & section, taxlots, metes and bounds, benchmarks, farmer ... and general swell guy.

The map-fu is strong in this one. So is his desire to help. I suspect I took advantage of him.

So here's this poor dude vacationing at his partner's house in Bakersfield for the winter, minding his own business & enjoying the sun when I sent him an email, asking for assistance.

Little did he know that my idle little request would turn into a full-blown research project. He innocently agreed to help.

To The Maps!

Michael first turned up a link to the Department of the Interior's United States Geological Survey (USGS) collection of historical topographical maps.

The earliest quad map showing Bend dates from 1926 and isn't very high resolution. But there is a some information here:
Section of Bend from USGS 1926 map. It's a bit hard to pick out, but there is a railroad spur (highlighted) running from the railroad mainline, on the east, across Wall Street (in red), and then close to the river. It looks as though it curls a bit southward at its end. At or near its end appears to be an "X" symbol, which could be an open pit quarry, or a gravel, sand or clay borrow pit.
The next map is dated 1929 and it's a wee bit clearer:
Section of Bend from USGS 1929 map. It's a rail spur. The symbol at its westward end may be  crossed pickaxes: the symbol for a quarry or open pit mine. The little black dots on the river bank, north of the spur, may represent buildings. 

USGS map symbols:

You be the judge.

Anyway, when we get to 1955, the USGS was doing much higher-resolution work (WWII technology?) and we see the spur clearly. The quarry symbol is no longer present:
Section of Bend from USGS 1955 map. The rail spur is quite clear. No indication of a southward curl or a quarry (the "X" out in the river appears to be an elevation control mark, but there is no elevation noted next to it, so that's odd). The power house and the Newport Ave. dam, originally put in in 1910 by the Bend Light and Power Co. and now owned by Pacific Power, are both shown on the river bank.   
But Hill wasn't done yet -- not by a long shot. Jack may rely on USGS topo maps in the backcountry, but Michael knows they are not reference documents when it comes to property.

So he turned to city of Bend documents and found a couple of historic zoning maps. Here's a cropped section of the map entitled "Proposed Zoning Ordinance Map, City of Bend, February 1947":

Section of City of Bend's 1947 Zoning Ordinance map. 
Now this is interesting. Here the railroad spur is shown curling south along the river.

And he found a zoning map titled "The City of Bend, 1960":

City of Bend 1960 zoning map. The spur is clearly visible, curling down to the river just north of the old Pilot Butte Inn. 
I was struck by two things about these maps. First, the earliest USGS map (1926) showed that the railroad spur predated the Hudson-Duncan building, which was put up in 1939; and second, while the USGS maps all show, or suggest, that the spur ended to the west of the storage building, the city maps tell a different story, showing it curling to the south.

And then Michael turned up a real gem. The next day he wrote, "This will help." and gave a link to the Right of Way and Track Map of the Oregon Trunk Railway, dated June 30, 1916 (8MB jpg). Here's the relevant section:

Section of 1916 map of the Oregon Trunk Railway. The right-of-way for the spur extends west from the mainline, crosses Wall Street, alongside the site where the Hudson-Duncan building will later be erected in 1939, then curls south, almost into the parking lot of the present-day Liquid Lounge at Newport Avenue. 

The earliest USGS map indicates that the spur was put in sometime before 1926. Does this railroad map tell us when? We get a clue. Note the callout "No. 138" right above the right of way where it starts to curl southward. The map's Schedule of Property tells us that the right of way for the spur was procured on December 15, 1910.

The railroad obtained the right of way for the spur from the Pilot Butte Development Co. on Dec 15, 1910
The Oregon Trunk Railway had already sent surveyors to Bend before April 1910 (Schedule of Property No. 126, above) to establish rights of way well before the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company would commence regular passenger and freight service. The first train pulled into town just before 9 pm on October 31 1911, 26 days after James Hill drove in the "Golden Spike."

This was a big deal at the time. Before the train, Bend didn't have much going on. Goods were hauled into town by wagon.

To prepare for the train, the October 25, 1911 edition of the Bend Bulletin reported that "[t]here is no letup in the activity in the local yards. Clearing of the roundhouse grounds, grading of the spur to the flour mill, erection of water tank and building of the passenger station continue, a large force of men being at work." *

End of Part 1

Next: In Part 2, Jack puts feet and eyes on the ground at Wall Street Storage, seeking signs of the old rail spur. 

* Four examples of the work being done in Bend before the train arrived were described in the October 25 1911 Bend Bulletin article. I did a little research on those four:

The Roundhouse and the Water Tower: Bend was the south terminus point of the rail line until the late '20s when the Great Northern Railroad established connection to Klamath Falls and to California. Until then, the return trip back up to the Columbia river necessitated that the locomotives be serviced and turned around. A roundhouse would provide the necessary facilities, but I couldn't find any information about the old roundhouse. The end of the line for the Oregon Trunk Railway was by Jaycee Park. Roundhouses need a lot of space and there is a large railroad property about 1/2 mile north of the terminus point, so perhaps the roundhouse and water tower were there. 

Click to embiggen. (Courtesy
The Passenger DepotThe depot was originally located a block north of Greenwood (N 44° 03.657’ W 121° 18.411’ center of this Google Maps image). NW Kearny Ave. went directly to it. The passenger depot was built of volcanic tuff stone in a unique "Mission and Romanesque" style, and is said to be "[...] one of only 4 examples throughout Oregon's passenger railroad stations with this unique combination of masonry and the porte cochere design [...]. "In the 1990’s planning was underway for construction of a new route for Hwy. 97 through Bend [the parkway - Ed.] and the Depot was in the way [and] the Depot had been taken apart, stone by stone (" then later reassembled to the south, as Arts Central Station (The Central Central Cascades Geotourism Project).

And the Spur to the Flour Mill? We'll get to that in a bit. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Flagrant Self-Promotion?

Like many here in Bend, Jack was somewhat perplexed to read in last week's The Source Weekly --"The Love Issue" -- that former mayor Bob Woodward had won in the category of "Hottest Over 50."

Over 70, maybe, but over 50? I can think of several men I know who deserve the award more than Woody. Hell, even H. Bruce Miller in his dotage is a handsomer specimen.

But I figured that the Woodman is an old pol, and that ballot-box stuffing, money under the table, and calling in old favors are all normal for this former ward heeler and recent inductee into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. He also might have something on Erin Foote Marlowe.

So I decided I'd let it pass without comment.

But what I saw today changes everything. Look here:
Corner of Newport Ave and NW 3rd.
A closer look:

There was no one in line.

[UPDATE]: I see that the Source beat me to the punch.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Diogenes Had It Easy

Diogenes the Cynic (412 BCE - 323 BCE) was a Greek philosopher of the Ancient Greek school of Greek philosophers. I am sure there have been many Greek philosophers since then, but he was one of the old guys. Anyway, the man was an irrepressible scamp, full of high jinks. He thought he was pretty funny.

For example, Wikipedia tells us that "he used to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp; when asked what he was doing, he would answer, 'I am just looking for an honest man.' Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels."

Ha ha. What a cut-up! I'm sure that many people wanted to just slap him.

Well, I'm here to tell you that while finding an honest man in some marketplace in Ancient Greece may have been tough, but finding a bar in Bend to hear the Super Bowl isn't much easier.

Why "hear"? Because Mrs Elliott said to me that she wasn't much interested in the game, but she did want to hear the commercials.

We don't get CBS here (as I previously described here) so if I wanted her company, I needed to find a place to both watch and hear the game.

Sidelines, downtown, is my usual game-watchin' venue, but it was right out. The sound in the place is a mess: an echoey blur, and the crowd -- jovial and enthusiastic they are -- but also noisy. Upstairs at Sidelines they have cushy sofas and big screens, and the sound is said to be better, but bartender Eric told me that the whole upstairs had been rented for a private party.

So I drove to Rivals, out on NE Division Street. They have plenty of screens, and the bartender assured me that the sound is good: they'd have the TVs turned up and the sound up on the surround system. So I got there early, and landed a good table. But as we neared game time, and the place started to fill, the crowd noise overpowered the sound system and all that was left was watching people on the screen moving their mouths while hearing only a vague boom of sound in the background.

Besides, their Bloody Marys were uninspired. Oh, did I forgot to tell you that Jack decided that Super Bowl Sunday was also Bloody Mary tryouts? Well it was.

With kickoff approaching, I drove downtown to find a place with seating, a good screen, and articulate sound. Parked on Wall.

I stuck my head into the Summit Saloon, a place good for watching games, but the bar was packed, and the tables by the other screens were taken, and the sound boomy and difficult to understand.

NB: Normally I don't consider audio important for watching a football game. My old man used to watch the games with the sound on the TV turned down -- he thought the TV announcers were dolts.

I next tried Brother Jon's Alehouse, a very decent pub, but the sound there was also blurry. Not good enough for hearing the commercials.

I crossed the street and checked out the Deschutes Brew Pub, finding the Puppy Bowl on the screens and Jimi on the sound system.

What about Seven? I like Seven, they have gay nights, so I popped in. Found a decent seat on a sofa upstairs in front of an old-school projection TV. The sound was decent though not great. I ordered one of their Bloody Marys.

Awesome! It had two (2) strips of bacon, and had a sufficient amount of horseradish to give it a kick; made the Mary at Rivals taste like the watery bottled mix that it probably was.

While I was waiting, Mrs Elliott, who had been out shopping for Alpine ski boots, texted to say that she had received a recommendation from the salesman for the Cascade West Grub & Alehouse out on Century Drive, so I handed back my unfinished drink, paid my tab, and joined her there.

Jack has never been to Cascade West -- it's pretty funky. Not much of a menu, but I must say the burgers were fine. For the requisite Bloody Mary the bartender gave me glass with ice and vodka -- and the rest was up to me over at the condiments table. I know nothing of how to make a Bloody Mary so the results were . . . odd. Next time I'll obtain the help of a paid professional.

But and but. The sound was about 1 second out of synch with the picture. Maybe the sound system was getting its feed from satellite and the picture from cable? Who knows, but when the video and the audio are out of synch, the result is a disconnected mess. I like the lips of the actors to match what I'm hearing, otherwise it's like watching a dubbed Italian art movie from the '70s.

I dashed across the street to check out the viewing conditions at Players, and the place was surprisingly full. The sound was good, too, but there was no place to sit.

Back across the street. We were nearing half time. I knew that Mrs Elliott wanted to see the show, and it made no sense to watch the singers' lips move while the sound was something else, so I suggested that we go downtown and try a couple other places.

Besides, the Ravens had contained the 9ers and the score was ugly.

We left my 1984 VW camper van at Cascade West and took Mrs Elliott's car in a downtown direction. On the way, I dashed into Brother Jon's on Galveston -- full and noisy; and into the Westside Tavern, ditto.

But M&Js was good. There were seats in front of a screen, and sound clear enough we could hear what was going on.

We watched Beyoncé dance and sing, saw some commercials, and then back to the game. An amazing 108-yard kickoff return. Cool.

Then half the stadium went dark.

We waited and we waited, and finally I said, screw this, score is 28-6 Ravens, the 9ers ain't gonna win, the power may be off for ages, some hulking great transformer has blown, it will take ages to locate and truck in another; let's go home.

Back over on Century Drive, Mrs Elliott dropped me off at my van and headed home.

I had parked the van in a difficult location. If you know Cascade West (and who doesn't?), you know there are several parking places in front of the building, and I had parked in the westmost spot, the farthest from the cutout in the curb. So I was slowly backing my way eastward to the driveway opening when I though, "Hey, there's just this curb between me and the street . . . heck, I'll just pull onto the street from here."

Checked for oncoming, drove off the curb.

K-bump! The front wheels dropped onto the street. K-bump, the rear wheels dropped off.

Then the engine died. I put it into Park and tried to start it.

Nothing, just the grind of the starter. Tried again, and again nothing.

So thar I was, blocking the eastbound lane of Century. I put on the hazard blinkers, put the van into Neutral, and pushed it backward to the curb so as to block less of the lane, but I couldn't budge it forward and turn it parallel to the curb and park it.

Just then, a few guys came out of the pub and easily pushed the van off the street near the German Food street vendor trailer.

I have a triple-A membership and Mrs Elliott's son is a tow driver for Consolidated Towing who handles AAA tows, so no worries there. I called Mrs Elliott, she drove back, we called Consolidated and requested her son, he reported he was on his way, and she drove home.

Our son and his flatbed truck arrived shortly and hauled me and the van back to the house and unloaded the van on the driveway for troubleshooting in the morning.

"Have you been watching the game?" he said. "The 9ers have come back -- two touchdowns and a field goal!"

Mrs Elliott and I looked at each other. "It's a game! Quick -- to the Mrs Elliottmobile and to the closest bar!"

That would be the Broken Top Bottle Shop. They have but one screen, the bar was moderately full when we got there, the Moon Mountain Ramblers were setting up to play some music, but the game was on and there were two seats at the bar, smack in front of the screen!

And we watched that game, and we had some cider, and we enjoyed every moment. Seated next to Mrs Elliott was a fellow who explained the brilliant reasoning behind the puzzling (to me) safety that the Ravens took in the final seconds.

Mrs Elliott, who had only wanted to watch the game for the commercials, ended up being totally thrilled with the game (she knows more than I do about football). I was quite pleased.

We both had a lot of fun.

But I surely hope that next year's Super Bowl will be on a channel we get (anything but CBS) because yesterday was also one exhausting day. I'd rather stay at home where it's safe and easy.

(Oh -- the reason the van stopped running is because the electrical connector to the ECU had been jarred loose, cutting off both ignition and fuel. I plugged it back in this morning, and made sure it was properly seated.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can't Be Left Alone

Mrs Elliott's out of town for a couple days.

I'm glad it won't be for longer than that because I am managing to injure myself daily.

First, I was knocking about the kitchen yesterday evening and managed to slice the index finger on my left hand nearly to the bone at the third knuckle while I was "knuckleheadedly" using a paring knife -- a very sharp paring knife -- to remove the foil from a bottle of wine.

As I paused to look at the slash and determine my course of action, Mrs Elliott called to discuss an issue regarding a new window we are having put in for her office.

So thar I was, phone pressed up to my right ear, left hand up above my head to minimize the bleeding, wandering about the house seeking medical supplies.

The cut was clearly too deep to be closed with Band Aids, but that's all I had at hand. There was nothing for it but to wrap the injured area as well as I could with a half-dozen or so Band Aids until we finished talking.

Once the conversation was over, I surveyed the heap of bandage wrappers and wads of blood-soaked cotton, and three things were clear: 1. Bandages alone were not going to keep this wound closed through the night (the location on my hand isn't easy to dress), 2. I either needed sutures or butterfly closures to keep the thing closed, and 3. I had a great big mess to clean up.

Two or three sutures aren't reason enough to drive to St. Charles, so I hunted around the house for the More Serious First-Aid Kit, found it, painted the skin around the wound with tincture of benzoin (which makes your skin super-grippy for bandages), applied some triple antibiotic to the owie, closed it with two butterfly closures, then covered the area with a couple of fabric Band Aids.

I spent the rest of the evening babying the owie -- it was (and is still) extremely painful and sensitive: it woke me up at least a dozen times last night, either out of simple aching, or whenever I rolled over in bed or moved my hand around and the finger caught on a blanket or sheet. Today I've adjusting to not using my left index finger for anything requiring strength 'cause it hurts like a sumbitch.

Anyway, the dressing remained in place, and has so all day long today. I dressed it well.

(Two people today asked my why I didn't use Super Glue to close the wound, and I totally would have except I didn't think of it and the First Aid kit didn't have any. While I was at Ace Hardware today I picked up a bottle for the kit. The stuff rocks for closing wounds.)

That would be enough for self-injury except that today when I was helping an employee move a cubicle divider (I was the one who was backing up) when my foot banged into a heavy carton that had been left in the middle of the room and I fell down backwards.

I could have laid there for a moment, gathering my wits and assessing possible damage but the calf of my right leg decided that it was the PERFECT moment to cramp up. I leapt to my feet to ease the cramp.

Thanks, leg.

While the lads said I did a very "graceful" fall (one said he'd give me a "9" for that one), I knew immediately that I had landed directly, and with great force, on my right shoulder. My weak shoulder, my tender shoulder.

I broke that shoulder many many years ago in the same damn auto accident that broke my legs, which has since required a knee replacement and a fused ankle, and while the shoulder has not given me much trouble other than the occasional achiness in these recent years, it's really aching now.

Ow ow ow.

So, to summarize:

100% of the days that Mrs Elliott has been away, I have managed to:

On day 1: Cut finger nearly to bone. Paste it back together with items found around the house.
On day 2: Bang the crap out of my old shoulder injury.

Only an idiot could miss the implications. That is why I am vowing that on day 3 (that's tomorrow), I'm staying in bed.

Miss Johnson -- cancel all my appointments. And mix me a drink.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Know My Wife . . .

. . . has gotten used to me when she comes across me searing a piece of meat in the kitchen with a propane torch and doesn't even find it surprising enough to comment on.

Not me:
Skip Steele, executive chef at the new Bogart's Smokehouse in Soulard, caramelizes a rack of ribs with a propane torch. (Evan S. Benn/Post-Dispatch)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On Avoiding Saying Something Trite

Jack was out at the Summit Saloon last night, watching Alabama crush Notre Dame like rampaging water buffaloes mowing through a crowd of underfed Punjabs.

At halftime I hailed a cab for a lift home and left my van overnight.

Mrs Elliott kindly dropped me off downtown to fetch it this morning. Since I still had some time on the meter before the parking police would tag it, I dropped into Sidelines for one of their $5 "Two Eggs Your Way" breakfasts.

The place was close to empty that early in the morning, so I took a seat at the bar.

The bartender asked, "Coffee or Bloody Mary?"

I laughed and asked for coffee.

She poured a cup and passed it over, then offered her hand.

"What's your name?"


"Mine's Jody -- nice to meet you."


Jody, I thought to myself. Funny thing is that the past two times we were at Sidelines to watch a game, I noticed a man and a woman, and the woman looked like a dead ringer for Jody Foster, the actor--making her the winner of Bend's Annual Jody Foster Lookalike Contest.

I thought to mention that fact to the bartender but decided that she's probably heard Jody Foster's name mentioned more than once when she introduces herself, so I shelved the idea and let it rest.

Few minutes later, a fellow sat down a few seats away from me at the bar. The bartender went through the same ritual, introducing herself to the guy.

"Jody," he said. "That's a nice name. I haven't heard that name for a while." He paused to think.

"Jody Foster," he stated.

I am so glad I kept my bazoo shut.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's ALIVE!!!

Back in September of 2008, a month after we moved to Bend, I tried to receive digital over the air (OTA) channels from the transmitting towers atop Awbrey Butte. But even though the towers are less than a mile away, we got nothing on a pair of cheap UHF rabbit ears. So I got a second-hand high-gain antenna and pointed it at the top of the butte, and still got nothing watchable.

I figured that the antenna could not "see" the towers, that there must be a ridge between our house and the transmitters. The only other source of digital TV transmissions was from Grizzly Peak -- on the opposite side of the butte from us and completely invisible from our side.

So I shelved the project and signed up with Bend Broadband.

A few months ago we cancelled our TV contract with them -- cut the cord -- and switched to streaming programs and movies on the Internet, using an $80 Roku with HD output, and haven't looked back.

Except in two areas: local news and sports.

Because news and weather make me feel more connected to the community, I sent an email to the engineering staff at KTVZ, requesting help; and the next day their broadcast engineer, Cliff Peck, came by to check out the signal situation. From the cab of his pickup truck on the street he was able to pull in a perfectly fine picture using an UHF antenna similar to the one I used back in '08 (a four-bay bowtie with a reflector screen).

Why was he able to get a good signal now, when there was nothing earlier? It's unclear -- he speculated that the digital transmitters weren't up and running back when I first tried it.

I fetched my antenna out of storage, leaned it against the front of the house, pointed toward the top of the butte, tied it to the unused cable feed to the living room, and Hey Presto! we had picture. We got PBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. Also CW -- whatever that is. CBS doesn't have a digital signal hereabouts. But what we have is fine: I can watch NewsChannel 21 for local news, and the football games shown on those networks. ESPN I ain't got -- those are "away games" for me: "Away" meaning I have to watch those games at a sports bar, or a friend's house, or by other means.

The antenna's location wasn't ideal: every time a vehicle drove by on the street it disrupted the signal because it was between the antenna and the top of the butte. So this morning I mounted the antenna up on the side of the house. Climbing around on top of a ladder in 25 degree weather. But it wasn't going to mount itself.

And now we have perfect reception.

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