My third trip to Washington State was kind of weird. We arrived just a couple days after September 6—the day my nephew, Riley Alexander Bennett, was born. Of course, a few days after that was September 11, 2001. I remember being woken at 7 a.m. Pacific time by the secretary where I work to tell me about it. Well, we did our best to make the most of the vacation, and I still took a trip to Portland to visit a friend I'd only previously known online.
Since we weren't having much luck with return flights, my parents and I drove all the way home in a one-way rental which turned out pretty nice since we got to stop at Mount Rushmore and Lincoln, Nebraska, where my good friend, Andy, lived at the time.
Grandmama and her new grandson
Granddaddy and his new grandson
I see you!
Brand new babies pretty much only eat and sleep during their first few days. Eye-openers are rare, but I caught one. Later on, when I was holding him, he actually decided to get wide awake and stare right at me. I'm guessing it was the first time he tried to really focus on something. Maybe that's why he likes me so much now!
Otters at Oregon Zoo
An online friend of mine happened to be in Portland the same time we were in Washington, so I arranged to drive down and visit. We met at Oregon Zoo. Given the diminutive number of photos, either I was too busy chatting with my friend, or I wasn't hugely impressed. Since this day was just a couple days after 9-11, I may not have been up to taking too many photos.
Polar bear at Oregon Zoo
The polar bear pen was rather spacious, but it was out in the sun, and it was obvious the poor guy was hot.
Elephant at Oregon Zoo
Wolf at Oregon Zoo
Bird at Oregon Zoo
Downtown Portland from Pittock Mansion
Before dinner, we went to a mansion that has an outstanding view of downtown Portland from the vantage point of Pittock Mansion. We got there late and could only look around the grounds. The house was closed for the day. I also remember they were doing a lot of work on it and there was scaffolding everywhere—not very photogenic. Obviously you can find some good photos of the house on the web site.
One of the two good things about the LONG drive home was stopping at Mount Rushmore. Photos I've always seen make it look so incredible. Seeing it in person multiplies it by 100, and photos don't really give you the sense of scale. The carving is actually much closer to the visitor viewing area than I thought, yet the figures are still visibly massive.
In spite of the unimpressive late-day lack of sun which made my photos quite lackluster, it was still an awesome sight. Here, I was going for a shot that seemed to approximate size and distance in real life, but quickly abandoned that futile effort.
So, instead, I started walking the trail that leads to the foot of the mountain.
And learned, surprisingly enough, that you can walk practically underneath the monument.
The trail goes right past the very base of the sculpture. The rocks that were chiseled away and fell below come right up to—and underneath and beyond—the trail's boardwalk.
Lots of great angles I never really knew were available to tourists.
We stayed for the night show, having been told that the monument was lit up. I started envisioning a really awesome light show. Alas, it's pretty much as you see here—huge white spotlights shining from about the same angle as your view. As we all know, the closer your viewing angle matches the light angle, the fewer shadows you see. Don't get me wrong, it was still impressive to see this huge thing lit up like this, but it still seemed a lot like the white opposite of a silhouette.
Gutzon Borglum bust
It's so much the American Way that a dude with the name of Gutzon Borglum is who we credit with this masterpiece.