23 July 2006

Loren Visits (and brings the Tulsa Heat!)

The weather in the Gorge in the summer is fabulous: virtually no chance of rain, low humidity, and temperatures in the 80s and 90s. However, each summer there are times when it gets a bit too extreme... now, for example.

The outside temperature at our house is currently 105 degrees - and that's at 1700ft elevation. I'm sure it's another 5-10 degrees hotter in White Salmon/Hood River, closer to sea level. Thank goodness for low humidity (currently 12%) or we'd be immobilized. It's hard enough to get motivated to do anything as it is.

Normally, as a result of the low humidity, all you have to do is find a nice shady spot and it will be 10-15 degrees cooler. And at night it will still drop down into the 50s. Our ritual for keeping the house cool is to open all of the windows before we go to bed, then close them all in the morning. No need for AC!

But not today. Even with a 15 degree difference in the shade, that still puts it ~90. Check out this Personal Weather Station in Trout Lake for today's data.

I blame Loren. He arrived a few days ago from Tulsa for a visit, and the weather has been hot ever since. (Actually, it was hot before he got here - but I still blame him.)

We came up with four options to cool us down:

  1. Go to work. Work has AC. But of course, who wants to work on a weekend?
  2. Run through the sprinklers. That's would be fun for at least a little while...
  3. Jump off a bridge. The Hood River has a railroad trestle with fairly deep water below. But the Hood River is 30+ minutes away.
  4. Wade in our OWN river.
Since the White Salmon River is glacier-fed (along with the vast majority of streams and rivers around here), it is cold all year round. Very cold. Though I don't know what the precise temperature is today, 45 degrees would not be out of the question. So we decided to walk down to our sandy beach on the White Salmon and wade, sit, or dunk ourselves in the river until we cooled down. Believe me, 45 degree water really cools you down fast!

The heat is supposed to break over the next 2 days. But why does it always have to get hot on the weekend?

- Mike (& Corinne)

22 July 2006

Rafting down the White Salmon

Our workplace tries pretty hard to try to foster a sense of family and community between employees and their families. To that end, they have off-site afternoon social events, BBQs and other such gatherings. But by far the best event so far was the company-spondered rafting trip down the White Salmon River.

The trip is 7.5 miles of class III & IV rapids, done in a 6-person raft. Since the water is cold and the river is rocky, wetsuits and helmets are provided - and required. The trip was a blast, and a much different experience than the inner-tube floats down the Delaware River that I am used to back East.

The highlight of the trip is Husum Falls, a Class V waterfall with a 10 foot vertical drop. Photographers were on-hand to capture the action over the falls. I'm in the front-left seat, and Corinne is directly behind me...

Heading over....

...and under! Yes, the entire raft and its contents were fully submerged.

Here are the still shots, stitched together into a video:

Hold On!

Mad props to Loren of Clevermill for assembling the video for us!

- Mike (& Corinne)

20 July 2006

Garden Update: 8 weeks

Now that we've weeded the majority of the garden (sans the bed we lost 100% to the weeds...), we decided to try reseeding one of the non-producing beds with herbs and more lettuce & spinach. So far, the re-seeding seems to be fairly successful.

But we have started to have more of a problem with the deer. Either they tired of the buckwheat, or perhaps the buckwheat is past its prime and they have moved on. Either way, the deer have recently discovered the lone uncovered pepper plant, and they really did a job on the potatoes. I'm hopeful that the potatoes have enough root structure below the surface, and greens left above, to continue to recover from the onslaught. Time will tell...

We've also started to encounter another pest in the garden, one we had hoped wouldn't find our little garden patch: gophers. The pocket gophers stayed out of the garden until very recently, either because they hadn't discovered it yet or because they didn't want to tunnel under the hard-packed driveway which surrounds the garden plot. But they have discovered it, and so far we haven't been successful in detering them in any way.

Arggh! I guess we should focus on the "experimental" nature of the garden, and try to make the best of it.

- Mike (& Corinne)

04 July 2006

Garden Update: 5 weeks

It's been quite a while since we started our Trout Lake Garden Experiment, so I thought it might be time for an update. How is our little experiment progressing so far?

Potato beds. The potato look very good from the top, but time will tell if the plant looks as good below the soil.

Peppers. In our haste to finish the garden before our vacation, we only had enough fence material to protect 3 out of the 4 plants. Thankfully it seems nothing has found that fourth plant interesting enough to taste yet.

??? This is what happens when you "plant and forget". There was supposed to be something in this bed, but we waited too long to weed. We never could find any of the things we actually planted.

Greens bed. The lettuce bed actually turned out reasonably well. The far section is a mesclun mix, the middle is romaine lettuce, and the near section is spinach. It's amazing what a difference in appearance weeding makes. Before we weeded, the bed looked like a mess; afterward it looked great. So great, in fact, that the day after we weeded the deer ate EVERY SINGLE ROMAINE PLANT. So far it looks like there's enough root structure remaining to regenerate.

Lettuce bed (closeup)

Tomato. Apparently deer like tomato plants. It took them a while to decide it was good enough to eat; it must not be one of their favorites, though, since the munching has been sporadic.

Beets. The Clausens told us that they had the best luck with root crops, so we have high hopes for these beets.


But by far the best success has been with... the cover crop. Of course, the one thing we have great success growing is the one that is "filler".

Despite the additional nutrients that a cover crop will add to the soil when it is incorporated, and despite the wind and soil erosion protection that it provides, by far the best thing that buckwheat did for our garden is give the deer something else to eat!

Single deer in the buckwheat.

"Hey, don't eat it all without me!"

Two deer in the buckwheat.

- Mike (& Corinne)

02 July 2006

Iris with Mountain VIew

- Mike (& Corinne)