Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Life & People (c426)

Of Gelato and Asphalt

Last week a snowstorm crippled Portland Metro . It wasn’t much of a storm really: it began at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, blanketed the city during rush hour, rolled up and over the Cascades, and dissipated by early afternoon. We could tell you about the traffic chaos, or how poorly Tri-Met dealt with the situation, or why sophisticated computer programs are superior to TV weather men with big smiles. But why not strap yourself into the passenger seat of Guest Writer Judith Gennett’s car and hang on? “PSU is closed! Portland is like a winter wonderland!” writes someone on my radio list. WOW! I say to myself. Sounds like a great opportunity to amortize my snow tires! I have my CDs and my computer and my camera and I'm ready to spin out onto I84. Out my Dalles City window, the ground is a depressing brown and bright green (Winter is when the grass comes alive!) but I know it will not last long. To the west the sky is white. I spin out, just like I said. Tiny flakes begin to spit as if from an Orator around Rowena, seven miles west. By the time I get to Hood River, the off ramp is puffy and white! The right lane is moist and black, but most vehicles have slowed down to 40 miles an hour. There are a few reasons that drivers go real slow in weather like this:

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Why Are We So Warm In January?

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Gorge is the seasons. We have them; unlike some of the other places I’ve lived, where either summer or winter or some particular sort of weather predominates. In the Gorge, we have summer, fall, winter, spring. Four beautiful stages of the year, as I’ve told friends in other places more than once. Thanks for making a liar of me, weather. It’s hit 50 degrees or warmer for the past several days here in The Dalles. It’s been pleasant, but disconcerting. You shouldn’t be able to stroll around without a coat in January. This comes on the heels of the notice that scientists are saying 2007 could be the warmest year ever recorded. Yes, that’s anecdotal evidence, but still a close-to-home example of global warming. It’s also part of larger pattern, what with recent repeat floods in our backyard, and endangered polar bears up north. And then there’s this: that every year since 1992 has made the list of the 20 warmest years on record...

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Café Correspondent Reports–Topic: “Inversion”

Reporting from a downtown Hood River coffee shop, Temira Wagonfeld, wades through fact and fancy, leaving no innocent bystander un-harassed in her search for answers (and opinions) about the ‘Gorge Inversion.’ “If I give you a quote, can you make it go away? It’s so depressing,” whined Meredith Meskin when I asked her what she thought of Hood River’s winter weather phenomenon, the inversion layer. Meskin owns a hydroponic greenhouse in The Dalles. “Nothing grows under the inversion layer,” she complained. The inversion may be purely a weather phenomenon, but that doesn’t stop local residents from having their own theories. “It’s those damn cows in Boardman,” asserted a Hood River resident. “We didn’t have this inversion before they opened that 50,000 head ranch out there. All that methane causes this smog.” “It’s the dams,” said another...

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Gorge Adventurer Showing Expedition Film in Hood River

Local publisher and adventurer Dave Waag will be presenting a film about a team of friends, skiers, who made an expedition to the remote Altai Mountains in China. The one-hour film, Journey to the Source: The Search for Skiing’s Ancient Roots, will play Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at Dog River Coffee, in Hood River. Waag is probably best known as publisher of Off Piste, the back country ski magazine. He was one of the three members of the Altai expedition; it was a six-week outing in the spring of 2005. The Altai comprise a range of mountains between China, Mongolia and Russia. Besides remote and much un-schussed terrain, the mountains are home to a hardy, semi-nomadic people for whom skiing is a way of life. Some people believe that skiing began in this region of Central Asia, and later migrated to Scandinavia, later to emerge in Alpine Europe and the United States. Waag recently consented to answer a few questions in advance of the film: New West: How did the Altai expedition come about?...

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Buff Daddy’s Place: Open for Business

In the long-running battle between the owners of the Viewpoint Inn and, oh, seemingly every official in the Gorge, we have a winner: the Inn is open for business. A Multnomah County hearing officer approved a conditional-use permit for the historic Corbett inn earlier this month. Owners Geoff “Buff Daddy” Thompson and partner Angelo Simione say they’re taking summer wedding reservations, and could have the restaurant portion of the inn open in several weeks. The saga of the Viewpoint Inn...

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10,000 Years Later, Ice-Age Floods Getting Their Due

There’s a surging interest in the Ice Age floods (aka Missoula Floods) that rolled down the Columbia River channel thousands of years ago, carving out much of our modern gorge. All sorts of things are washing up in the new tide of interest, including Congressional action and a new Columbia Gorge interest group. The Ice Age Floods Institute is a group of Missoula Floods devotees with a number of local chapters. The newest chapter is in the Columbia Gorge, with about two dozen people thus far, according to organizer Terry Hurd. (Email: iceagefloods@yahoo.com.) The group will meet at different sites around the Gorge; its next meeting will be in Stevenson a week from Thursday, on Oct. 19, at the Interpretive Center, starting at 7 p.m. ...

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Gorge Property Rights Activists Stick Together As GLUE

The Dalles Chronicle has reported that the usual activists, the property rights rebels against the crushing might of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, have transmogrified. That’s right, Gorge Landowners United is no more. Now, the activists rally under the banner of Gorge Land Use Equity. GLUE. As in, sticks like. As in, they’re all over the property rights front, struggling to right the wrongs foisted on hapless property owners by the over-weaning Gorge Commission, and they’re not going anywhere, thank you very much. Heroes, really. That’s how I think of them. Each has a story to tell about standing up to The Man. (Or, really, since the Gorge Commission’s most recent and past executive director have been women, and since the patron saint of the pro-planning Friends of the Columbia Gorge is also female, The Woman.) And now, they’re telling them loud and clear. (Okay, actually, they formed GLUE back in July and didn’t really tell anyone in, like, the media.) But they have a common voice. From GLUE’s Internet manifesto: “Regulatory power has exceeded its authority and has established land use prohibitions and restrictions that have deprived affected Gorge landholders of the reasonable use of their property without compensation and adversely affected all Gorge residents by inhibiting reasonable economic development necessary to their future.”...

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Walden’s Votes Speak: Thank-You Sir, May I Have Another?

If only my Congressman, Greg Walden (R-Hood River), made as strong a stand for the Constitution as he has for trees and mountains. If only he’d fight for 800-year-old limited government ideals as he will for Mount Hood. Despite his consistent Republican Party voting record — or, if you prefer, his rubber-stamping — Walden’s bipartisan push to protect a modest 77,500 acres of Mount Hood wilderness with the Legacy Act (along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland)) has run into hurdles from the Bush Administration. Loyalty with Bush and friends apparently runs along a one-way street. Walden, though being stymied on a signature piece of conservation, continues to toe the party line — even voting in support of historically bad legislation. Twice in recent weeks, he’s sold out Oregonians in favor of GOP bills with unmissably gross flaws. First, he cast his vote for torture...

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Voted Off the Island! White Salmon Stages Its Own Version of “Survivor”

The White Salmon community has put itself through some rather dramatic times lately — though you’d hardly know it if you read only the other Columbia Gorge newspapers. A quick primer for everyone who doesn’t live in that most beautiful of gorge towns: This winter, the mayor fired the new police chief. (He did say something to the effect that “it’s not you, it’s me.”) That didn’t sit well with voters, who, last month, fired the mayor in a recall election. Now, the city has offered to rehire the ex-police chief. But the ex-chief, burned by the mayor, is being coy, and now the community has neither. A month from now, who knows who will be eliminated, or reinstated? In searching for, hiring, or electing citizens to both positions again, White Salmon residents might do well to remember ol’ Ed Burke’s thought: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

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Westlund Calls It Quits, the Weenie

Ben Westlund, independent Oregonian, today: "At the beginning of this campaign, I made a commitment to the people of Oregon, and that was: I was in it to win it…  And that I absolutely would not play a spoiler role. Therefore, today, with no regrets (but some sadness) I am here to honor that commitment. I am proud to keep that promise to the people of Oregon ... despite the fact that I unquestionably could qualify for the ballot... by announcing my withdrawal from the race for Governor." Odd, this, coming after the apparently successful signature-gathering from the Westlund campaign. I don't recall this vaunted promise to avoid being a spoiler at all costs, either — a rather silly promise from an independent candidate, anyway. But alright. Here's some scuttlebutt about what may have influenced Westlund to run away from the fray. Perhaps Westlund was too scared to talk to us about land use and took the easy way out instead? (I kid, I kid!) But it does occur to me that Westlund had an obligation to see this thing through, at least a bit further, to put the fear of God into the Tweedle Dee-and-Dum candidates from the Democrats and Republicans. If Westlund had hoped to shake things up, fighting to get into a debate and eventually acting as a spoiler would actually have been effective. At least next time, the major parties would have had to think and worry about another independent candidate, and been forced to address his issues in a campaign. By dropping out, Westlund may be sort of innoculating the powers-that-be against the idea of a vital centrist candidate. 'Oh, he'll never make it - just wait a few months and he'll drop out.' Sigh.

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