Friday, September 21, 2012

Cascadia Cave Tour

We found another Oregon historical gem that ranks up there with Hull-Oakes and Thompson Mill. It is the Cascadia Caves near Sweet Home.
Unfortunately, the cave is on private land (for now), and requires a Forest Service approved tour. Fortunately, the tour included a very animated archaeologist/story-teller named Tony Farque.

Human use of the cave dates back 8000 years, and includes a myriad of cave art. The location is situated at the cross-roads of the North-South and East-West migration trails of the Indians and was an important Salmon harvesting location. Tony made the art come alive with stories and interpretations and spoke engagingly for an hour and a half while we ate lunch.

He showed us some replica artifacts that would have been used by the Kalapuya.
The Kalapua were egalitarian and had female shaman and leaders. I can't wait to see what these ladies aspire to.

I can't recommend this tour enough. It left me with a deep respect for a people who had an obviously deep connection with nature. Unfortunately, the next tour won't be till next June! The Forest Service only has two tours a year.  Find out more at

I've put  more photo on Picasa.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Web Comic the Size of a House?

One of my favorite web comics is XKCD. It is usually over my head, and sometime vulgar, but occasionally it is just plain brilliant. This weeks comic had a bottom panel that you could click and drag to move around. It contained some hidden cultural gems sprinkled here and there. Try it out here before I tell you more about it.
I was a bit late to work as I was clicking and dragging. It became clear the underlying image was far larger than could be explored in a short sitting.

Not wanting to miss any gems, I dug in to the html, found the javscript serving the images, and wrote a Python script to probe the server for the needed image files. What emerged, if printed at 300 dpi, was the equivalent of 16 feet by 40 feet, or enough to cover the side of a house!
This is just a thumbnail of about a third of it. The Apollo rocket is top center. At the very far right was an interesting homage to his very first comic!

The other thing that struck me was how similar the layout was to the illustrations of a book I had read recently about a two dimensional world called Planiverse by A.K. Dewdney. Here is the main character's home:
The novel had a similar concept as Flatland by Edwin Abbot. Both deal with what life would be like living in two dimensions. Just what you need for being prepared to be trapped in an XKCD cartoon for a day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How far can you get in a car without oil?

Some one mysteriously deposited about five quarts of oil and some metal and body pieces on our front yard sometime in the very early morning. It appears they didn't see that the road came to a "tee" and ran about a car length over the curb.

Among the pieces was one with a part number. A quick look on the web told us we were looking for a late model Jetta VW.

Amazing, they had decided to back out and drive off. It was easy to follow the diminishing oil trail to see that they were determined to make it back to Corvallis, heading south on 99W.

Given the complete loss of oil, it was easy to figure they didn't make it far. With only three tow companies in Corvallis, it only took two phone calls to find out who had towed what where. The offending vehicle was parked in front of a auto shop in South Corvallis,

I drove down to the shop to verify the missing  body pieces matched. The missing grill pieces were a dead give-away.  Underneath, not only was a majority of the oil pan gone, a large portion of an engine mount was dragging on the ground. That must have made enough racket to drown out the dying screeches of an oil-starved engine.
The tow operator told me he picked up the mess near Arboretum Road, just about a mile from our house. That, is apparently has far as you can go without oil.

The only questions remaining? Was the person drunk, and if so, will a $4k repair bill sober them up? Fortunately, this time the only injuries were to some German engineering, but I fear this driver is in for further bumpy roads.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Alpine for Labor Day

With both vans road-worthy after extensive mechanical repairs, it was time for a little fun, so we took the Westy down to Alpine for a night.

Unfortunately, being Labor Day weekend, we did not have the place to ourselves. There were two ward campouts and a family reunion going on.  We ended up sharing a campsite with another family with two noisy young boys. Not quite our typical outing, but fun none the less.

We stopped at Alsea Falls on the way home. We also hit the third annual Blackberry Festival in Alsea which was more like a small farmers market, buy hey, we like blackberries!