A Cautionary Tale

It was a dark and stormy night.

I had just spent a very pleasant few days visiting with my aunt and cousins in central California. I was on my way back north and should have stayed in Portland at my sisters’ house, but I wanted to get home. I was cruising along the inside lane of I-5—at pace with the traffic in the other lanes—about a mile south of the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River. In this area there is a large reader-board spanning the highway. I checked it for “cautions” (say, an accident ahead, perhaps). This was precisely the wrong moment not to notice that the cars in my lane ahead were at a virtual standstill. They were moving, but only just enough so that their brake lights were not on.

I briefly (very briefly) hoped I could avoid a collision by squeezing by on the left. Unfortunately, the wet pavement, in combination with how hard I had to brake, did not allow the time or control to get over far enough. I clipped the driver-side rear corner of a Subaru Outback. The Subaru was able to limp over to the left curb. As you can see from the photo, my poor little Tacoma was not going anywhere except to a wrecking yard.

My wheels for the past 10 years. Bye, bye.

My wheels for the past 10 years. Bye, bye.

Fortunately, there were no apparent injuries at that moment. Since then, my back has been complaining, but I am reasonably certain it is just a pulled muscle. The other driver did say she banged her head pretty hard against the headrest. The Portland police officers who arrived on the scene were awesome; they issued no citation, and they got us off the highway pretty quickly, considering.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. I could easily have been rear-ended myself, and, with a full tank of gas back there, I probably wouldn’t be here. Instead, an angel pulled up behind me and turned on her flashers. She was a sweetheart and provided a couple of much needed hugs.

I had full coverage for the Tacoma, but, as a 2001 with 175,000 miles, it will be very difficult for me to replace with whatever I get for it.

The reader-board that precipitated all this was only informing me how many minutes I likely had before reaching the I-205 interchange—useless information for me, and sadly, wrong.

The Job Interview

One day this last September, Katie and I, and Katie’s daughter and her best beau, spent the day in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone. We saw lots of wildlife, including a couple of grizzlies…….a long way off :-). The best photos I got were of elk–particularly  two that I thought were going to stick their heads in the car window and bite my camera. Their facial expressions inspired this slide show.

Knights Ferry, California


This gallery contains 12 photos.

Here are more photos I captured at Knights Ferry. The decaying structures of the old flour mill make great subjects, and I lucked out with the cotton ball sky that day. The steel door is from the jail house in … Continue reading

Room With A View

On the recommendation of friends and family, Katie and I checked into the Ester Lee Motel in Lincoln City. After the drive down from Portland I was ready for a nap. I woke up just in time to catch the last moments of the sunset from the window of our room.


I should have anticipated that the sunrise might be worth getting up for, but I didn’t and It was. It was not only a colorful sunrise, but a lovely setting moon. Once again, I woke up just in time to click off a few shots from the window before the colors faded.

After breakfast, we came back to check out and I caught a parting shot from the same window.

Nice lodgings with a nice view–we also saw some whales spouting, but they were a loooong ways out there.


Old Man’s Car

Buick Le Sabre near The Grand Staircase, Utah

What’s that noise? I opened the hood. The serpentine belt was fraying –Ah, heck, I should be able to fix that. Hmm, it looks like the reason it is deteriorating is because coolant is leaking onto it from somewhere. I check the web for possible solutions. It turns out the upper intake manifold in this engine is notorious for failing every 60 k miles and leaking coolant in all sorts of inappropriate places — I guess it makes sense, a stock feature of an old man’s car would be prostate problems . Anyway, the cure is to update it with better designed parts. Well, this is a little more  of a repair than I was thinking I wanted to do,

Point Reyes, CA

….but, because it is a common problem, there are some very detailed instructions on how to do it available on the web. One upper intake manifold, one lower intake manifold, water pump, timing chain cover, fuel injectors, spark plug wires, oil pan gasket, etc, etc, and one serpentine belt — and two years later, I got it back together. Miracle of miracles, it started right up! Only problem is, it only wants to run at 3500 rpm — putting it in gear doesn’t seem like a good idea. Back to the web — it’s gotta be a vacuum leak, but I can’t find it. I talk to a repair guy in town, he says it has to be a vacuum leak as well. I try various methods every now and then for six months trying to find it. I call AAA and have them tow it to the shop. It wasn’t a vacuum leak. A couple of new sensors and $480 to the repair shop later, the car is finally back on the road.
So, what does this have to do with photography, you may ask. For five years, my old buddy George Daly and I covered over 100 k miles of the Western US in this car and I was shooting thousands of pictures along the way. It is a great road car, very comfortable and  with six cylinders, gets better mileage than my  four cylinder Toyota Tacoma.  I was getting 30 mpg on a regular basis and got as much a 34. I’m looking forward to some new photo expeditions in this car. I’m sure George will be smiling down on us.

George Daly at Mt Rushmore

Too Late

Back in 1971, my neighbor and best friend, Paul, and I road our bicycles from Portland to Yosemite via the coast. We stopped in at the Sea Lion Caves and picked up bumper stickers to let fellow travelers know where we had been, but we didn’t actually take the 200′ elevator down into the caves. I’ve driven by there many times since then and finally decided to take the plunge on my last trip. Too late.

Scrawny Sea Lion

Just kidding, but you don’t get very close to the living sea lions, and it is pretty dark for photos – still, it’s interesting.

Sea Lion Caves