Saturday, January 28, 2012

Company in the outdoor living room

Well, got a new visitor today while sitting out in my little heated patio room next to the camper enjoying a cigar this evening.

Meet George the Cat, my neighbor from across the park’s cat.  Sorry for the somewhat poor quality of the photos, I was using my phone as the camera and it doesn’t always do the color very well in low light.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Classic Campers–Franklin Motorhomes

Well, as if you haven’t guessed, I have a thing for classic motorhomes and RVs in general.  So, whenever I can lay my hands on something from that time period to either keep as my own or archive into my blog, I usually tend to.

This time, I’ve got an old brochure copy from one of the early Pickup-chassis based Motorhomes that were around in the late 60s into the early 70s before van chassis took their place. 

One of the early pioneers from that period was Franklin, who was already known for their truck camper line. 



If I was ever to go to a smaller motorhome over my current camper, I’d personally like to lay my hands on an old classic Franklin or Scamper pickup chassis motorhome. 

For one, any engine work on them was no harder than doing work on a regular pickup, one of the things I’ve never liked about vans is the whole “Dog House” in the front and center between the seats and having to remove it every time you wanted to do any work on the engine. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Freak January Snow, Pretty, but damaging….

Well, we had a weird bit of weather here.  For the first time in the two years I’ve lived here on Sauvie Island, this is the first time we’ve ever gotten snow. 

The biggest irony is, when I left work that evening, which was at a higher elevation, there was only rain there, but by the time I got home to the island, two inches of snow had already fallen.


I thought it was rather beautiful, a nice change from the never ending pattern of grey and brown that is Oregon nine months out of the year.

Since I still had my Christmas lights up, I turned them back on again to snap a few snow pictures.


I used my tripod and an extended exposure for all of the pictures, absolutely no flash was used at all. 

By the time I was done, the snow had stopped and I thought, “well looks like we’re good for the night.”

I, like several other people, got a little caught off guard.

My patio room, the next morning….


I got off cheapest, my patio room only cost me a $100 to replace, however, eight different rigs in the park had their rather bigger and more expensive permanently mounted awnings collapse under the snow load that night.

Apparently, some time after I went to bed, the sky opened up and dumped roughly six inches of “Colorado Concrete” on us, that nice extra wet and heavy stuff. 

Several people got trapped in their RVs for a while as their awnings collapsed down against their doors.   I ended up having to mark off from work that day to both replace my patio room before the rapid melt off and oncoming rain that was in the forecast hit, as well as help neighbors get their awnings up enough to get their doors open.

My love of snow has been somewhat tamped down after this, next time, I’ll remember to get up once an hour to sweep the snow off the patio room roof with a broom.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chinese New Year & another cigar haunt

Well, happy new year to all my readers!

Since I was rather quiet during the traditional new year I figured I'd do a little post about the Chinese new year celebration I attended over at one of my local haunts, the Decoy.

Now, for those that may not know or remember I live out on Sauvie island just outside of Portland, Oregon and my little neighborhood bar is the Decoy tavern over in Linnton.


I usually visit there when I'm on the mood for comfort food and a quiet drink. Peter, the proprietor and I chat when he has a few free moments from his grill and during my last visit he invited me to the Chinese New year celebration he was having on the 15th of January.

Naturally, I said yes :P.

So, at around 6pm I showed up and discovered that Peter was having a free Chinese buffet. 

If you know me you know that I hardly ever turn down free food, even when I'm already too full to begin with ;).

Food was good, though Smile.  I do love a good Chinese Buffett some times, and Peter’s cooking has always been good. 
The Decoy has always been a good place to eat a lot of different things.  From the outside, it looks like your average working man’s tavern, but has a menu that covers more than your basic burgers and beer. 
For one, besides a good list of Burgers and Beer, they’ve got Chinese Food, Pizza…. and on. 
Making me hungry just thinking about it Smile with tongue out
So, I gorged myself till I could eat no more, thanked Peter for his hospitality, then decided to drive up north to the Wal-Mart Super Center up near Vancouver, WA to get a universal windshield mount for my new HTC Thunderbolt phone/Wifi/GPS/pocket computer…. Dang the thing does a lot!
Trip was pretty uneventful, got to try out my first go round navigating via GPS, using Google Navigation. 
With the evening still fairly young, and not really wanting to go home, I decided to add one more place to my stops for the evening and punched in McMenamin’s Kennedy School in Portland, Oregon to see if the rumors I’d been told of it’s Cigar bar were true or not.
Little history of the Kennedy School:

The Kennedy School has been a center of lively activity for the Northeast Portland neighborhood since opening in 1915. Over the years, thousands of kids congregated here to decipher the three Rs, eat mac and cheese on Mondays and climb hand over hand up the gym rope to ring the bell.

When built, Kennedy Elementary School's location was rather remote; it stood three blocks beyond the end of the nearest streetcar line. And that line, which came out Northeast Alberta Street, passed through some pretty sparse country, judging from an ordinance that outlawed the shooting of rabbits from the streetcar.

Also, the school was just eight blocks from the city line, then set at Northeast 42nd Ave. — and in those early years, the numerous Kennedy students residing beyond that boundary lived without electricity, water, sewer or telephones.

Actually, the first elementary school classes were held on the school grounds in portable, one-room buildings in 1913, two years before the present-day school building was built and opened. Just 29 children attended that first year.

As decades passed, the school took on additional civic roles, further endearing it to its neighbors. When school was not in session, "Kennedy" served the community as a public meeting hall, polling place, Red Cross blood drawing center, collection site for paper and tin can drives, weekend playground and even flood-relief shelter.

It was a sad day indeed when at the end of the 1974-75 school year, faced with declining enrollment throughout the district, school officials closed Kennedy, declaring it too old and crumbling to repair.

Scrambling to ward off several demolition orders, a coalition of neighbors, former students, past PTA presidents and the Portland Development Commission fought successfully to save the building.

Mike and Brian McMenamin presented just one of several proposals for reviving the condemned property. Other ideas ranged from a retirement home to an indoor soccer facility. After receiving the approval of the city and the support of the neighborhood, McMenamins launched its renovation in the spring of 1997, infusing the 80-year-old structure with new life. In particular, a river of artwork was inspired by the stories of generations of Kennedy's students and teachers.

On October 22, 1997, the original principal's bell was rung on the front steps at 7 a.m. sharp to herald the old school's new beginning as McMenamins Kennedy School. Offering a unique and fun lodging, dining and meeting experience, Kennedy remains a lively gathering spot for neighbors and newcomers alike.

Since I’d already eaten, I forewent any dining on site, plus, I’ve eaten quite a range of McMenamin’s fare, so it wasn’t a great loss for me on this particular visit. 

Instead, I found myself here, in detention if you will:


The tiny cigar bar is actually the old Vice Principal’s outer office area, where the original benches that students once sat upon awaiting their fate before entering the principal’s office (now used a storage closet). 

The room is very small and very dimly lit, I only managed to really get a couple pictures. 



The heating in the room is supplied by a cantankerous old wood stove that is either in a constant state of running out of fuel or trying to roast you out of the room Smile with tongue out

While definitely not my favorite of the McMenamin’s cigar bars, it does have the best selection of cigars that I’ve found at one of their establishments so far. 

I enjoyed several cigars, chatted with a number of folks, and heard some rather amusing tales from a fellow who’d worked in Cellphone sales for a number of years.

Afterward, I retired home for the evening and slept well.