Summer Holiday – day 11

29 08 2015

Day 11, we decided to chill a little and stay around the camp site. We opted to walk up to the lighthouse and take the tour. Umpqua lighthouse is one of several down the Oregon coast. There’s a neat brochure by the Oregon State Parks that tells us the following about it:

Umpqua is the second lighthouse to occupy this site. An earlier structure built in 1857 was the first lighthouse sited on the Oregon coast; it succumbed to erosion in 1861. The Umpqua River lighthouse is nearly identical to the one at Heceta Head, and both lights were illuminated in 1894, but the Umpqua lens emits distinctive red-and-white automated flashes. 

I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the mention that the first lighthouse only lasted four years before succumbing to erosion. Er… this is in the middle of dune country for goodness sake!

Umpqua River lighthouse

Umpqua River lighthouse

Anyway, we paid the few dollars for the guided tour and a student from the museum opened up the lighthouse and tried to answer our questions. The staircase was interesting in that it was free-standing and not attached to the brick walls at all.

Free-standing stairs inside lighthouse

Free-standing stairs inside lighthouse

We could get right up into the light assembly and clearly see the Fresnel lenses that are such a feature of lighthouses. The cunning Frenchman revolutionised lighthouses by figuring out how to produce a relatively light (no pun intended) lens to massively concentrate the light into a beam that could travel many miles out to sea.

The Umpqua River lighthouse has a “signature” that includes red as well as white flashes.

2 white, 1 red... Umpqua's "signature" for passing shipping to identify their position.

2 white, 1 red… Umpqua’s “signature” for passing shipping to identify their position.

One other feature of Umpqua River lighthouse was that it had an auto-changer so that should the bulb fail, a second back-up lamp could automatically be brought into service. In this photo it can clearly be seen to the right of the currently illuminated bulb. (Now that WAS a deliberate pun).

The business end - 1kW bulb with auto-changer

The business end – 1kW bulb with auto-changer

The descent down the iron staircase lent itself to some arty shots. However, I only managed this one…

The way back down the stairs

The way back down the stairs

After the lighthouse, we walked down to the beach and snagged a geocache on the way. Turning my back on the canoodling couple in an oh-so-English way I took a few shots of the old pilings left in the sand. I’m not sure of their original use – perhaps there used to be a fish processing plant her in days gone by.

Pilings left from some old structure

Pilings left from some old structure

As we ambled up the spit to the South of the river exit, there were some interesting geological forms in the large rocks that had been used as erosion barriers.

Holy rock Batman!

Holy rock Batman!

This was clearly a favourite walk for locals and tourists and there were a few hints that bonfires had taken place in the past. I was struck by the patterns at the detail level in the carbonised wood.

A charred log on the beach

A charred log on the beach

There was a Coastguard tower though we were told at the museum that there was little need for it these days and only punishment shifts were ever posted there. It certainly looked highly automated at the casual glance.

Coastguard watchtower

Coastguard watchtower

At the end of the breakwater, a triangular area had been enclosed. Though still tidal, it was entirely sheltered and was now an oyster farm.

Oyster bed at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Oyster bed at Winchester Bay, Oregon

As we started to head back to the road we had a sea-level view up at the lighthouse nestled against the treeline. It looked solid and comfortable. Surely it looks even more so in a raging storm. The apparent quiet was short-lived though. Down here in the dunes was a huge campsite that was the exclusive domain of “boys with toys” and we had to watch out for 8 year old lads on motorbikes and ATVs on their way to erode the dunes with their pot-bellied dads in dune buggies.

Umpqua River lighthouse from the beach

Umpqua River lighthouse from the beach





Humans are a terrible species

29 08 2015

Back in 1969 a man set foot on the moon. 1969. I was 5 years old. It was almost 50 years ago!

In 1990 – a full 25 years ago – South Africa, racially fractured almost since its founding by European powers began its own path to reconciliation and healing.

In 1950 India – the world’s largest democracy, let’s not forget- made inter-caste discrimination illegal. 65 years ago. Progress.

Today I was made aware of two international stories that made me shake my head and realise that these successes of humanity are but a veneer on what we really are deep at heart – tribal, ignorant animals scared of anything and more importantly anyONE that is “other”. We’ve become sophisticated over the millennia, but that just makes us so much more subtle (or not, in the first tale I’ll recount) in the way we express our prejudice.

The first story I’ll tell nearly made me choke on my morning tea. In Baghpat – just north of New Delhi in northern India, a man from the Dalit (untouchables) class fell in love with a woman from the higher Jat community. We’re led to believe it was fully reciprocated. She was subsequently married off to a more suitable upper class husband, but a month later in a scene I imagine similar to The Graduate, her “unsuitable” but romantic lover ran off with her anyway.

This is 2015 remember. In a democratic country that 65 years ago made it illegal to discriminate based on caste. You might imagine some indignation. Her parents can’t be too happy for sure. But the actual reaction?… his family were tortured OFFICIALLY by the police and his two sisters sentenced to rape for his “crime”. Yes, you read that right… they weren’t subjected to rape by vindictive relations (the Jat community did in fact ransack their home), no this was a judicial sentence. One sister is 15 FFS! Sentenced by an unelected council to be raped and then paraded naked through the streets!

Thankfully the girls managed to get India’s Supreme Court involved and Amnesty International is now on the ball. But it’s not a slam dunk they’ll escape being subjected to this throw-back to earlier times, punished barbarically for their brother’s “cross-caste” love affair, deemed a crime they must pay for.

Read more about it at Mashable.

Source: Indian sisters sentenced to rape because of their brother’s affair

The second story that came to my attention today is much closer to home. Not geographically – it’s actually in Switzerland. It is however an attitude I come across commonly in and around Vancouver. The BBC reports that the Swiss Blick news agency has reported that the Rigi resort has put on special trains to cater for the vast number of Chinese visitors. The reason? They’re apparently noisy and disturb “other visitors” (i.e. more like “us”). Blick reports “They crowd the corridors while taking pictures from the train, there has been rudeness in packed carriages, and some even report seeing tourists spit on the floor“. There’s also reports of “Rigi seems to be firmly in Chinese hands!” and “Toilets are now cleaned more often, and signs have been put up showing how to use them correctly“. It’s all couched in terms of helping the Chinese visitors, but I can’t help but feel there’s more than a little resentment of “other”. I myself often see elderly members of our local Chinese community spitting in the street and I’ve heard tell that following an elderly Chinese lady into a public toilet can be “an experience”. At root though this is no more than a culture clash, and if we are wanting to welcome the income from foreign visitors we need also to understand that they will bring different perspectives and expectations. Segregation comes in many guises and “adding extra trains for the Chinese to avoid conflict with other visitors” is very different to simply adding more capacity.

A mountain resort in Switzerland is launching special train services for Chinese tourists.

 

Source: Switzerland: Special trains for Chinese tourists – BBC News

 





Stay Weird!

28 08 2015

Heard this on CBC’s WireTap a while ago – how to age gracefully. Didn’t realise there was a video to go with it.

The 93 year old has the best advice… ignore the advice!





Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 12

28 08 2015

Route: BCMC

Time: 01:32:58

A full five minutes faster than last time which was a surprise! Second born did her best time ever and completed the BCMC in less than an hour which quite pleased her. It was a little hot, but the forecast rains seemed to have kept people away and it was much quieter than recent weeks. That’s always good. I’m certainly not possessive of these public areas by any means, but personally I like to retreat to my own little world and mull over things when I’m hiking. Having people jockeying to get past on the narrow trail is quite distracting. So that makes 43 recorded ascents towards the 51 I need to claim Everest. I wonder if I’ll perhaps manage it this season.

The gate is staying open until 7pm still, but the nights are definitely drawing in, so it might soon be a challenge to get my ascents formally timed.

 

Worst thing? The strap on my FitBit broke a couple of days ago and though it seems to record my steps perfectly well from within my trouser pocket it does NOT record them if those trousers are stationary in the car while I’m trudging up Grouse… :S





Cubs are cool

25 08 2015

Harper was doing a blah blah tour up in Campbell River on the island. Somehow a group of scouts/cubs were dragged in for the photo op. This despite the fact that scouts are not supposed to attend political rallies in uniform – they’re apolitical!

In the end this “I don’t give a shit – where’s the ice-cream?” cub scout got the most attention from the media. Harper was talking about BC salmon and protecting the environment. Rumour has it the posters to go with the campaign used ATLANTIC salmon. From the UK no less!

Cubs are cool

‘Middle Kid’ steals the show at Harper photo-op – Trending – CBC News.





Summer Holiday – day 10

25 08 2015

Today was a lazy day. We started by dropping in to the small local village of Winchester Bay. Like Port Orford, it felt like this had once been a bustling tourist trap, but now felt empty and forlorn. It was actually quite sad. The local area now seemed to cater almost exclusively for the rednecks on their quad bikes tearing up and down the dunes.

We managed to find an open café, but the offerings were meagre… and in polystyrene cups!

Winchester Bay... a sad, lonely place.

Winchester Bay… a sad, lonely place.

An air of dereliction in Winchester Bay marina

An air of dereliction in Winchester Bay marina

Seems there'd once been a thriving oyster trade

Seems there’d once been a thriving oyster trade

In search of more lively entertainment – or at least food – we headed further north to Florence. Here we stopped at Fred Meyer – a US supermarket chain – and stocked up on food and provisions. As we were leaving the car-park we noticed that the famous dunes of the coast LITERALLY started at the boundary fence. In no particular hurry, we parked again and set off for a most amusing hour or so on the dunes just to the north of Florence.

Mrs E and the yoofs trying to run off and leave me

Mrs E and the yoofs trying to run off and leave me

All that's left

All that’s left

T.E. Lawrence would be back in a mo. He was just off getting his camel serviced. Fnaar fnaar.

T.E. Lawrence would be back in a mo. He was just off getting his camel serviced. Fnaar fnaar.

That's art, that is...

That’s art, that is…

The ever-present reminder that this was red-neck central.

The ever-present reminder that this was red-neck central.





Summer Holiday – day 9

25 08 2015

On the morning of the 9th we decamped and headed for our final stop at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. En route, we stopped for lunch in Coos Bay. After a couple of false stops we finally settled on a pub lunch at the 7 Devils Brewing Company. The menu was a little limited due to the small kitchen, but the service was great and the beer and vittles delightful. The brewery gives back to the community and on the first Sunday of the month actually opens its doors as a community church! Who’d ha’ thunk it?!

7 Devils Brewing Company - Coos Bay

7 Devils Brewing Company – Coos Bay

A pint of best please landlord. Actually I think this was Arago amber... a bit hoppy for my taste.

A pint of best please landlord. Actually I think this was Arago amber… a bit hoppy for my taste.

Pretzel and dip. Scrummy!

Pretzel and dip. Scrummy!

Though we were to be there for 5 nights, the campground at Umpqua lighthouse was by far the worst we’d been at. It was clean to be sure, but the showers and toilets were “rustic”, and the sites were minuscule and merely packed sand (this was in dune country after all!). We actually had to carry the bench table to the car parking pad to free up enough room for the larger tent… and we had another small hike tent too! It was a snug fit.

After we were settled in, we headed off to explore the lighthouse and the small museum. We’d just missed its opening hours, but noted the old lifeboat and vowed to return later for a proper look-see.

Old self-righting lifeboat

Old self-righting lifeboat

Umpqua Lighthouse, built 1894

Umpqua Lighthouse, built 1894