Last summer, Erik told us that WorldCon (the World Science Fiction Convention, if you’d like to be formal about it) is going to be in San Jose this coming summer. WorldCon is where they present the Hugo Awards (awarded to the best science fiction and fantasy of the year before, in a lot of different categories), and the winners are chosen by members (anyone who goes to the convention, plus a few others). Like, I’m going to be able to vote and help decide who wins a Hugo this year. Plus it’s a big convention with a ton of my favorite authors, and so, pretty much since the day Erik told us about it (which might have been during our last visit), we’ve been planning to go.
I finally bought our memberships just before the end of the year. (John and I are members of the World Science Fiction Society now, and at the moment, I think I might keep that up. Seems like a thing I should be a member of.) I could have bought our memberships (giving us access to the convention) at any time, but I was prompted to do it before New Year’s by one very cool thing I found out in the nick of time: becoming a member before the end of the year means that not only do we get to vote, we get to nominate.
You can’t see me jumping up and down through your browser, I know, but you can imagine it. I’ve been squeeing in some form, inside or out, for the past four days.
I have read 13 books/novellas in the last year that are eligible for Hugo Award nomination. I can nominate up to 5 in each of the 15-ish categories, although I won’t hit them all. Some categories are for things like Best Editor or Best Semi Pro Zine, something I really can’t judge. I’ll focus on novels, novellas, graphic novels, movies, short stories, and stuff like that. They haven’t announced when nominations are due, but until I hit that deadline (maybe February or March?), I will only be reading Hugo-eligible works (which is any science fiction/fantasy/horror published in 2017).
Let me tell you the story of our hike last Saturday. “Story”, since it’s not like anything eventful happened. Mostly I want an excuse to show you pictures. Oh, that reminds me – I want to preface all these pictures with something. Every picture and video posted here was taken by me on my phone’s camera. I have the resolution cranked all the way up, and for the still photos, I have HDR turned on. I don’t edit my photos, and I don’t use filters. (This is not a vanity or ego thing – I don’t have the patience or desire to spend that much time on my pictures.)
Anyway, I wanted a hike with waterfalls, but I didn’t want to drive all the way across the state to see the famous ones, like Multnomah Falls (two and a half hours away) or Klamath Falls (three hours away). Luckily for us, the Mackenzie River has a trail called the Waterfalls Loop Trail, and it starts less than 90 away from us.
We started at the Carmen Reservoir. The day was perfect.
The river was so clear it looked it looked chlorinated, and the water was so cold that the air on the banks felt like air conditioning. Everything smelled fresh and clean and clear and that reminds me of something I forgot to mention about our redwoods hike. That national park smelled SO GOOD. Margaret, wonder that she is, explained that the park has a lot of bay trees, and surprise surprise, they smell like bay leaves, and it was so freakin’ pleasant (and I am so glad we had Margaret to tell us that because otherwise I would not have been able to explain why it smelled so good). This forest did not smell like bay leaves, but it smelled like fresh, clean air, and it was so nice.
The path was clear and well-maintained (and by the waterfalls, it had big log railings that reminded John of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg), and the forest was beautiful.
And then we rounded the corner and saw the first of two waterfalls. (I think it was Koosah Falls.)
It was loud, of course, but I could have watched it for hours.
Speaking of well-maintained trails, I’m always tickled to find stairs in the woods. These were on the way up the river, past the first waterfall to the second (and the top of the loop).
So then we came to the second waterfall. Look at all that green! I can’t get over how nearly neon it was.
Then of course we asked someone to take our picture. Not great, but whatever.
So we climbed to the top of that waterfall and kept following the trail, but when it was time loop back, we weren’t ready. There was another path that was supposed to lead to Clear Lake (never heard of it, but it sounded promising), so we figured we’d follow that for a little bit.
It led us here. We weren’t impressed.
We were going to turn back, but another hiker came by and pointed out that the trail continued on the other side of the road. That was awfully nice of her because that’s how we found the Lake of Shining Waters Clear Lake.
It had a cool bridge going across the river.
We walked a little and turned around pretty quickly, but when we got back to the bridge, it had been overrun by tweens from sleepaway camp. There were at least 20 of them, daring each other to jump off the bridge, their camp counselors egging them on. I got video.
After that, we headed back to the waterfalls loop to go down the other side. We found where the trolls live.
And then as we got to the top of that upper waterfall, we climbed down from the actual trail to get closer to the water and I found my new favorite spot in the whole world.
That’s where the water plunges down, that horizontal line of frothy water with trees above it (beyond it). My toes were an inch from the waterline on the bank.
I crouched down under a tree to get the water rushing over rocks inches away.
Shifting my focus upstream, look at how clear it is and then how cold it looks.
And then there was this spot, where I could sit up against a tree with the water rushing by below and the dropoff 30 feet ahead.
We stopped here for a while.
And, well, John was hot, so he tested the temperature.
We did eventually head back down the trail, and we found ALL the rainbows at the first waterfall.
This next picture is why I mentioned all that stuff about not editing and not using filters. I have done nothing to this picture to make it look like this.
It’s my favorite. Occasionally I get lucky. And that day, I was very happy to be on that trail.
I didn’t post yesterday, but I had a very good reason, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason: I was at a really, super good, fanTAStic show in Portland last night, and most of our day and night was spent working, driving, dancing and singing, and then driving again, leaving no room for blogging.
Sorry, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason. But I’m here today, and I’m going to tell you all about it!
Last night was a perfect example of “Hey, we don’t have any responsibilities except work so we should take this opportunity. No excuses.” (We sometimes have to remind ourselves.)
I don’t even know what order to tell this in. Chronological? Best to worst? How about I start with “what am I talking about” and “how did this come about”, huh?
What I am Talking About:
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played a club in Portland last night (Tuesday night) and WE WENT. We missed him last time he was in Portland – by the time we found out about the show, it was sold out.
How This Came About:
It was a very lucky stroke of wonderful timing. I follow this actor we like, Timothy Omundson, on Twitter, and on Sunday, he tweeted about seeing Frank Turner in LA. That made me think hey, if he’s on tour, maybe he’s coming near us, so I checked and OHMYGOD HE’S COMING TO PORTLAND IN TWO DAYS, followed by OHMYGOD TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AND WOW THEY’RE CHEAP! Clearly, I bought the tickets. (Our struggle with “but it’s in Portland and it’ll be a really late night and then we’ll have to get up really early and work the next day” was short-lived.)
Side note: I tweeted at Timothy Omundson about it (as a reply to his tweet) and he responded! Squee!
Okay, now I’m going with best to worst:
BEST – In the middle of a song, the second opening act (which was very good – more coming up) asked the crowd for a guitarist and they picked John, largely due our proximity to the stage and my nutso jumping and pointing. It also helped that he’s tall. So John, our very own John, went up on stage with a touring band during a real rock show, and played for a minute or so with the band. It was so great and I HAVE VIDEO. I did my best to hold the camera still. Please forgive my screaming at 1:27 and 2:01. Yes, the singer is talking about Betsy DeVos.
Frank Turner was freakin’ amazing – there was screaming and dancing and singing along and they played all of my favorite songs of theirs minus one and I will go to his shows any time he tours anywhere near us.
The second opening act was this Canadian band, The Arkells, who are our awesome new band to love (and emulate because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days). That’s who pulled John on stage, and they were a really great surprise.
The first opening act was this acoustic singer-songwriter guy from England, Will Varley – funny jokes, good songs, and we bought all his CDs after the show (because we’re suddenly very conscious of supporting smaller acts now that, oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
There was crowd-surfing! It was limited, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show with crowd-surfing before. Frank Turner met a barista earlier in the day, and she came to the show, so he pulled her on stage and got her to crowd-surf with specific directions to the crowd. We had to get her to the back so she could high-five the person running the merchandise table, detour to the bar, and then come back along the other side to the stage. We helped her get back on the stage at the end. And then, during one of the encore songs, Frank crowd-surfed himself, WHILE SINGING, and we helped. He was sweaty. But I touched sweaty Frank Turner!
Our drive to Portland was fun on its own. We binged Frank Turner songs and brainstormed ideas for John’s band (because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
Late as it was (we hit the road at midnight), the drive home was kinda fun, too. We stuck to the decades stations on Sirius and had a sing-along to stay awake.
We ate at a southern BBQ place for dinner before the show which was…not bad. Total hipster restaurant, from the menu to the diners. At one table, there was a bearded guy wearing a black button down shirt and a matching black wool beanie on his head. At the very next table, there was a bearded guy wearing a gray button down shirt and a matching gray wool beanie on his head. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. The second guy had a toddler wearing a lumberjack flannel shirt.
WORST: Getting up this morning was not easy. I got 4, maybe 4 and a half hours of sleep before I had to get up and work. John didn’t have any morning meetings, so he slept longer.
There’s probably more, but I think I’m out of words. For now. Until tomorrow! I hope. If I have time. Because there’s more cool stuff happening tomorrow.
Huh. I can tell the exhaustion is setting in ’cause I can’t seem to stop. Stop. STOP.
Slept in all the way until 9! Of course, it was 2am when we went to bed.
Rode our bikes about 4 miles to a good bagel place.
Spent 2-3 hours sitting outside said bagel place with bagels and coffee, reading our books.
Rode 4 miles back home.
John worked on fun computer things, and I ran (outside again!).
Heading out to drink and play video games at an arcade and local bars for Will’s birthday.
We’re walking over to meet everyone (it’s about a mile and a half away, and we don’t want to have to drive home), so we have to get moving, but I plan to have time to write tomorrow. I hope everyone else’s Saturday has been as pleasant as ours!
We saw a Night Vale live show in Portland last night (Thursday night), and it was GREAT. There were a ton of people (the show was sold out), some dressed up (I saw Carlos the Scientist a couple of times, at least four glow clouds, and a ton of Night Vale t-shirts), most not, almost all fans of the show. John’s not crazy about it – he listened to a couple of episodes and didn’t like the narrator’s voice, which I think was also Corey’s problem with it – and the couple sitting next to it were walking in blind, too. It seems like a strange show to go to cold, but whatever. It was a lot of fun to see live. I’d go again if the opportunity arose.
The show always travels with a musician (or a band), and for our show, they had Erin McKeown, who I had only heard of because she performed the weather on the most recent episode of the show. I really liked that song, and I really liked the others she played. She went on first, played 6-8 songs, then the show started, and then she played the song from that last podcast episode as the weather for the show. During the show, she played alone (electric guitar only), but the recording I’ve heard it has a full band, and it’s awesome. You know what? You can hear it for yourself.
I usually get annoyed when I skip a day on the ol’ blog here, but I can’t be mad about skipping yesterday. I didn’t plan to skip – I thought I’d be back home in time to get it done – but it was late because we were out having adventures and doing fun things and taking LOTS of pictures. I can forgive myself for that.
None of the pictures you’re about to see have been edited, mostly because I don’t really know how to do that, and I’m too lazy to bother with it. The signs all over Crater Lake National Park say that the water is so blue because it’s all rain and snowmelt and because it’s the deepest freshwater lake in the country. It was incredible. I didn’t want to look away. Of course, I did look away because who would believe we were there if we didn’t take pictures? I love being a tourist.
I can’t help but like this one, even though we could be ANYwhere since you can’t really see the lake.
It was hard to leave, even after our hike. Oh yes – we hiked. In our infinite wisdom, we chose one of the strenuous hikes, meant to take 2-3 hours and gain over 1000 feet in elevation. In our defense, there were only two hiking trails within walking distance of where we parked, and the other one was easy and seemed to follow the road we’d just driven down. BOR-ing.
If you squint, you can see the Crater Lake Lodge in the upper center part of this picture, which is where we started. I think we were about halfway when I took this one.
The temperature was in the 70s, and we were working hard, so we were plenty warm, but there was SNOW on the ground. Not everywhere, certainly, but we had to climb through a slippery melting snowbank to get to the top. That was the scariest part. Well, coming back down through the snowbank was the scariest part.
We did reach the top, though. Here we are on Garfield Peak, 8000 feet above sea level. I don’t know how many feet we were above lake level.
And here’s another terrible selfie (it was really bright out, okay?).
I think I might have to make that one my profile picture for ALL of my accounts.
John wants to run down this meadow. I’m willing to bet it’s steeper than it looks.
I think I took this next one on the way back down.
Here we are, tired and happy and soon to be very hungry.
We left about 6pm (we got there around after noon, close to 1, I think), but it’s 2 and a half hours away, so it was nearly 9 before we got back to Cottage Grove, and after 9 before we ate. Almost midnight when we got home, still had to shower (covered in sweat and sunscreen – totally gross), and we’re only a little bit sore today. Our gym has a hot tub. We may be heading there this afternoon.
Ignore the random people in this picture. I think it’s a cool sign.
We were THIS close to the track….
…and it was a beautiful day.
And look! The women competing in the heptathlon getting ready for their 200m race. Butts in the air…
Pushing off the blocks…
Burst of energy at the beginning of a short, fast race.
Check it out! It’s Maggie Malone, she of the cool name and the world-class javelin-throwing arm.
And HERE is a picture that shows all three of the men who will be running the 5000m race for the US in Rio. You can see Lagat (check his bib) and the other two are in Chelimo (in the Army shirt in front) and Mead, in the green shirt behind. I took that picture because I was that close. Such a cool day.
Yesterday was the coolest day. We went to the next to last day of the US Track and Field Olympic Trials at Hayward Field (home of Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman), and it was INCREDIBLE. It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever watch the actual Olympic Games in person, but yesterday, we got to watch the best track and field athletes in the US compete for a spot on the US Olympic team – those were actual Olympians, and it was unbelievable to watch. I mean, I’m saying this even about sports I don’t care about and know nothing about, like the high jump and the javelin throw. Those were neat to see (and the woman who won the javelin throw has the best name – Maggie Malone), but we were really there for the running events. Us and everyone else, really. The place was packed by the time the men’s 5000m final started. Watching an Olympic (near-Olympic 5K) is NOTHING like watching a neighborhood 5K. There were 16 men competing, and since we didn’t know anything about any of them, we decided to cheer for the oldest guy, Bernard Lagat, who is 41 years old and holds the American record at this distance. I got video of them coming around during the first lap.
I forgot to mention that we had AMAZING SEATS. We were right in the center of the long straight stretch of the track, on the starting line side (behind them – we could see butts in the air at the start), IN THE FIFTH ROW. We were on the wrong side for the finish, but we could see plenty.
My plan was to get that video (accomplished), then conserve my battery (I was down to 13%) and get another short video as they came around for the final lap. That first lap was relatively slow, and I wanted to be able to contrast that to the effort they’d be putting in on the final lap. On a track, a 5K is 12 and a half laps long, so I had plenty of time to watch a few laps and then get ready to record again. The race was crazy exciting. Two guys were out front at first, but they tired out and didn’t end up staying in front. Then there were another two in front (way out front), and then, right at the end, everyone else started catching up. The guy we were cheering for, Lagat, was in the middle of the pack the whole time…right up until that last half-lap, when he SURGED AHEAD AND WON. The 41-year-old won the race. It was incredible, and I was screaming my head off and then his face crumpled in happy tears and so did I. I was highly susceptible to those athletes’ emotions yesterday. So was the lady next to me.
Anyway, I’d have video of that last lap (or at the least the part right in front of us, like in the earlier video – I had every intention of cheering, not recording, as they headed to the finish), but my phone chose the moment I pressed the record button to crap out on me and tell me my camera crashed. SO ANNOYED. This is the last disappointment I’ll take from you, phone.
You can watch official video of that last lap (like I just did) here. If you pause the video at 41 seconds and squint, I think you can see John (grey jacket and his hat) and a blur that might be me, 5th row. Or I might be imagining it. But we’re there!
It was so cool. Honestly, seeing this in person was one of my top five reasons for moving to Eugene. Tomorrow I’ll post some of the pictures I took.
We did make it to the coast, and we did have a wonderfully pleasant day, and with the sun out, temps in the mid-60s felt great.
We did what usually works out for us: hit the road with a general destination (or at least direction) in mind, and then just see what we see. You know? It worked out pretty well. Our first stop was at the Sea Lion Cave, a place we didn’t know even existed until we noticed it on our handy road atlas. (Our cell service was pretty much non-existent all day, so we relied on good old-fashioned maps.)
Apparently, this is where the Stellar sea lions live. Off to one side was a path to the elevator that takes you down 20 stories to the actual cave (fall and winter home of the sea lions). Way over in the distance is the Heceta Lighthouse. We’ll visit that some other trip.
A similar path in the other direction took us to the lookout where we could see the rocks where about 150 sea lions were sunning or playing in the surf.
It’s breeding season, and the male sea lions were shouting about it. Lots of roaring. They’re a noisy bunch.
We headed further north after that, stopping in Newport for a late lunch and a little browsing. Newport has a pretty harbor, but it’s a working port and the harborside factories or whatever where they deal with the raw fish and crabs smelled AWFUL.
Looks nice, smells bad. But they had a friendly California sea lion willing to pose for his fans.
After that, we found a mostly empty beach and read for about 3 hours.
It’s not 32GB, as advertised. It’s 16GB (which is what I have now).
I called Sprint to swap my service from my old phone to my new phone (which is what the online chat person told me to do the other day), and the Sprint person the phone told me I can’t do it over the phone or online because I didn’t buy it from a Sprint store. I have to GO to a Sprint store because only the physical stores have the software needed to enter an individual phone into their system. I can’t use it until I do that. UGH.
The fantastic customer service (not from Sprint):
Several days ago, Woot emailed me to say that they’d heard that this shipment of phones included some 16GB phones, and it’s possible I might get one of those instead of the 32GB. If that were to happen, I should email them and they’ll refund me $40 if I want to keep the phone or the whole amount if I want to return the phone since it’s not what I ordered. All of that before I even got the phone, just in case it wasn’t right when it arrived.
Today, I got two emails from Woot. The first was to tell me they’ve already refunded me $75. The second was to tell me why they refunded me $75: the phone is refurbished, not new, and it’s 16GB. They got the phones from T-Mobile, and apparently, the shipment details were not correct at the time of the sale. I can still return it for a full refund AND a $40 credit towards another purchase, if I don’t want this phone.
I have not contacted Woot AT ALL yet. They have done this all preemptively. Woot is wonderful. This is how you run a business.
On Wednesday, John and I decided to head to the coast and sight-see (and give Will and Christina a day free of house guests), and I may have fallen into a beautiful scenery hole. I don’t know if I can get out. It’s almost overwhelming. The road we were on to get there took us through the mountains and along a river and then there was a lake (with the trees on the mountain going right down to the edge of the water and the water was like glass and the trees were perfectly reflected) and oh, hey some elk (elks?) and it was SO beautiful. I didn’t get any pictures of that section because I was driving and there was nowhere to turn off, but then we turned south onto 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway!!) and aimed for Coos Bay. We went to a state park Brian (who used to live there) recommended and BAM. There was the Pacific Ocean. It’s been a long time since we last saw it, but hey! It’s still there.
There was a trail along the top of the coastal cliffs – I could have stayed up there all day.
Thursday morning, Will took us running along a trail that runs next to a lake near his house, and really – how do you expect me to run in a straight line when I’m craning my neck in every direction to look at the lake and the trees and the mountains and oh look! there’s a house nestled in there and wouldn’t it be great to live in that house?
I had the best morning today. Getting up was a little difficult, but I got up and out and went for a run. Ran over the Naval Academy Bridge (across the Severn River), went a little past and up to a scenic overlook. I was skeptical, since it seemed like it would just look out over the road (yay road?), but no, they know what they’re talking about when they say there’s a scenic overlook. There’s a view of the river and the bridge and the academy on the other side. Scenic. That was my halfway point, so I came back home thinking I’d grab John and we’d go have breakfast, but he wasn’t back yet. (He went to Pax River last night to see Shorty and ended up staying.) So I grabbed my phone and my key, went to Starbucks, and looked for a place to enjoy the sunshine and people-watch. Found the city dock instead (where we saw a band Thursday night), so I plunked myself down right on the edge with my back to a support post, and talked to Mom and Dad for a half-hour or so. It was SO nice. Warm, but not hot, sunny, breezy (no bugs!), me with my iced white mocha.
See my shoes? Proof I was there!
Better view, but not great. The sun was in the wrong place. Move, sun! (Yes, let’s blame the sun.)
I took a few blurry pictures of sailboats that I won’t subject you to, and I tried to get a picture of the guy who was sitting near the top of his big sailboat’s mast doing…something, but that picture didn’t come out well at all.
My terrible photos aside, it was SO pleasant, SO nice, and then as I was walking back to the apartment, I went down the street John usually parks on to see if he made it back, and there he was, driving up the street looking for a spot. Perfect timing. After we got his car safely parallel-parked next to a gigantic tree, we headed to West St to check out the flea market (underwhelming, but then, flea markets aren’t really our thing – it might have been an awesome flea market as those things go), and then we had coffee and breakfast at a spot down the road.
Every Saturday morning needs to go like this. Every morning would be nice, but that might be asking too much.
The coolest thing happened yesterday. John and I were walking back from dinner out, heading to the garage to pick up his car and move it back to our block. It was pretty quiet, not a lot of traffic, not a lot of noise (it was a Sunday evening). We probably heard something in the background, but we weren’t really aware of it until it jumped out and slapped us in the head. Seemingly out of nowhere, we heard this CHORD, a chorus of voices singing. It was loud, it was good, and where the hell was it coming from? We stopped in our tracks, heads swiveled left, and then we were across the street, following our ears to track down the music. (We probably looked cartoonish, we moved that fast. Left a cloud of dust behind us.) Within a block, it was clear there was a gospel choir around here somewhere, and two blocks away and around one corner, we found them. A group of maybe 8 or 9 men and women were arranged in an outdoor park in front of a band, singing their heads off. It was really cool. There were some chairs arranged in front, maybe 30-40 people in the audience, and a Mr. Brain Freeze truck at the curb (who would have been doing better business if this August actually felt like August). We hung out for maybe 20 minutes, until the good choir took a break, and a not as good choir stepped up. I overheard someone explaining that there’s music in this park every other week, gospel on Sundays, jazz on Thursdays. I imagine we’ll be back there again before it gets cold. Yay for walking places! We would never have heard this if we’d been driving home from dinner. Or if we’d heard it, we probably almost certainly wouldn’t have driven around looking for it.