As you may know, Jonathan lost his ring mysteriously last May. Authorities suspect that the ring disappeared while he was doing yard work, and that the ring now lies at the bottom of a compost pile somewhere — or worse. (Not that we know of much that can be worse than that.) So, after considerable consideration, Jonathan ordered a new ring that arrived last week.
The new ring is neither gold, nor silver, nor platinum, but tungsten carbide! It has the twin virtues of being both very hard and inexpensive. It scratches only under extreme conditions, and is the metal of choice for items such as drill bits and saw blades. Could there be manlier metal than this?
Jonathan is happy with his purchase. Jenelle is likewise glad to have something to keep the other women away from her man.
Jenelle and Jonathan recently spent a weekend in Astoria, Oregon.Â Astoria is a city on the northwest tip of the state, on the mouth of the Columbia River.Â It is full of history, having long been the stomping grounds of Native Americans and explorers such as Lewis & Clark.Â It was founded by Mr. Astor, who gave the town its name.Â Fortunately, it wasn’t founded by Mr. Malar or Mr. Hyster.
Upon arriving in the city, we were surprised to find snow on the ground, which the locals assured us was very unusual.Â We spent two nights at a lovely bed and breakfast in the old part of the city.Â The place was a house that is almost a hundred years old, which made it a good setting for the large antiques collection of the owners.Â This was our first stay at a B&B in the United States, and we very much enjoyed it.Â One of the best parts was that the tasty breakfasts included dessert.Â The house is next door to the site of the first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains.
After attending church at the friendly Astoria ward, we walked up to the famous Astoria Column, which stands on a hill overlooking the city.Â From the top of the column we had a beautiful view of the surrounding country.Â The face of the column is covered with a mural depicting the history of the area.Â Later, we visited two lighthouses on the Washington side of the river.
The next day, we visited Fort Clatsop National Historic Park, which contains a replica of the fort that the Corps of Discovery wintered in from November 1805 – March 1806.Â The word is that Lewis and Clark saw only seven days of good weather during their winter on the coast.Â We also visited Fort Stevens, which served as a military base defending the mouth of the Columbia from Civil War times through World War II.
Our recent experiences have reminded us that the law of gravity is in full effect here in Oregon.Â Earlier this month, we drove out to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a lovely tree for our holiday festivities.Â We found one (for only $10!) and brought it home.
By the time we reached our house we decided that those trees look a lot smaller on the tree farm.Â Maybe it’s because the air is clearer out there, or something.Â In Jenelle’s words, "This is a big tree!Â Do you think it will fit in our house?"Â Well, it did.Â We are grateful that we have vaulted ceilings.Â Jenelle named it Fluffy.
A few days later, a huge windstorm swept across Oregon.Â At the coast winds reached almost 100 mph, and winds of about 60 mph lashed the Portland area.Â That night, Jonathan was standing outside their house (Why was he outside?Â We’ll leave that to your imagination.) when he witnessed a tree across the street bend over farther, and farther, and farther, until it collapsed on a neighbor’s house.Â The house was damaged, but fortunately no one was hurt.
The next day the wind stopped, but other trees in the area had heard about what went on during the storm.Â Our poor Fluffy showed himself susceptible to these influences when on a Saturday evening he decided to fall over onto Jenelle!!!Â Fortunately, Jenelle was all right and only a few ornaments were broken.Â Next year we plan to suspend our Christmas tree from the ceiling.
I’ve posted some photos from our week together this month.
With the days here growing rainier and colder, thoughts turn to the end of summer, when Jenelle and Jonathan ventured south to California to visit the Redwood National and State Parks. (The original plan was to visit Yellowstone, but that is another story. Maybe one that will happen next year.)
They drove down to the parks on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and set up camp. Within minutes, one of the early highlights of the trip occurred when Jenelle invented the Double Stuff Chocolate Oreo S’more. But the culinary wonders did not stop there as they experimented with their new Dutch oven. By the end of the trip, they were producing things that Jonathan thought he would never eat on a camping trip, including pizza and apple/cherry pie.
During their stay of four days and four nights, they saw wildlife, wildflowers and (of course) really, really big wild trees. They also visited Fern Canyon, a canyon with vertical walls that are covered with ferns. During the hikes they went on, they noticed that many of the groves were named after people (presumably ones who had money to donate to the park). Jenelle and Jonathan started thinking that it would be great to have a Vance Grove in the park. As they were driving home on Wednesday, they happened upon just such a place, named after an early pioneer in the area.
Update: Here’s a link to a panorama shot that I couldn’t upload into the photo site (for unknown reasons).
Jonathan is pleased to announce that his first patent application has been published.Â It was filed in March 2005, a few months after Jonathan started his job, and was published this month after the usual 18-month delay.Â It describes a system for calibrating moisture detection equipment used in lumber kilns.
This is only the published application — the Patent Office hasn’t looked at it yet to decide if it should be issued as a patent.Â Jonathan is currently applying his extensive golf expertise to a patent application for a putter. . . .
“What?” you say.Â “A film suggestion from someone who doesn’t own a TV?”Â Why yes, thanks to the modern miracle of DVDs, we occasionally watch a movie on our computer.
I would like to recommend Winged Migration, a film about the great journeys that birds make every year.Â It covers birds from all over the world, showing some very funny birds in Oregon and a healthy dose of penguin footage.Â Much of the film was shot while literally flying with the birds themselves.Â It will make you do a double-take the next time you see a flock flying south for the winter.
Jenelle and Jonathan spent three days last week hiking the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. They had been on the first 6 miles of this trail several times before, but a yearning to carry heavy things on their backs caused them to plan a trip all the way to Wahtum Lake at the end of the trail (and then back, of course — you can’t stay at Wahtum Lake forever).
They resolved to set off on this 26.6-mile journey early Thursday afternoon, but one thing let to another, and they didn’t get to the trailhead until 4:45 that evening. So, they hiked in a few miles and made camp at a site on Eagle Creek.
The next day was a very special day — Jessica’s Birthday Eve, a.k.a. Jenelle’s Birthday. Not just any birthday, but the Big Three-O. (Some of our acquaintances would find this hard to believe, since they tell Jenelle she looks so young.) They celebrated with a candle-studded carrot cake muffin. That day they hiked and hiked, passing beautiful waterfalls, steep cliffs, peaceful forests, and sunlit groves. They pondered how much more pleasant backpacking can be in good weather. Late that afternoon, they reached the end of the trail at lovely Wahtum Lake and then made camp near a creek a few miles back on the trail.
Their third and final day was uneventful, though breakfast was cut short when the stove ran out of fuel in the middle of the first pancake. (Jonathan needs to learn to conserve fuel. Or just bring more.) Afterward, they went home, cleaned their gear, and treated their blisters.
Pictures are available here. We hope you enjoy them — Jonathan has said that he isn’t taking a camera with a heavy zoom lens backpacking again.
It was a ripping, munching sound that tore at Jenelle’s dreams early one morning. She opened a sleepy, tax-return weary eye and looked out the window. There they were on the lawn, big, furry, hungry animals, black with white accent — the skunks had returned.
But these weren’t skunks . . . instead, they were racoons looking for grub-munching goodness.
Racoons and skunks and grubs, oh my! She woke up Jonathan, and he got out the camera.
Apparently, the racoons were social animals, with one big racoon accompanying several little ones. They soon realized that they were being watched, and they made racoon sounds and soon became as curious about us as we were about them. Before long they were only inches from our bedroom window. The younger ones seemed to be the most curious.
A number of years ago, Jenelle took a watercolor painting class at BYU.Â Over the course of a summer term, she painted several lovely scenes that now grace the walls of our living room.Â More recently, Jenelle also learned to cut mats for these paintings.Â Jonathan’s contribution was pounding nails into the wall. . . .