Brian's Photo Blog — Article 449
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Mount Hood Summer Solstice
Thursday 16 July 2015   —   Category: Outings
The day before this year’s summer solstice I went on a photo outing to downtown Portland — see A Portland Summer Solstice for all the details.

Two days after the solstice (and Father’s Day) I went on a more unusual and special trip. Somehow I had gotten the idea to take public transportation from the southern end of Portland’s TriMet service area at Wilsonville Station all the way to Timberline Lodge, halfway up Mount Hood!

The exact distance between these two points depends on how you measure it. As the crow flies, it is about 53 miles from Wilsonville Station to Timberline Lodge. Even though I am a Byrd, I am not a crow, so my route was going to be longer.

The driving distance along I-5, I-205, Oregon Route 212 and U.S. Route 26 is about 69 miles, which should take around 90 minutes, depending, as always, on the traffic.

For this day’s outing, I wanted to try something completely different by es­chew­ing American overdependence on the automobile and taking mass transit to an ex­treme. Although Mount Hood is awesome, for my purposes the trip there and back was the main attraction. It had to be, because each 96-mile one-way journey took four hours!

To get from Wilsonville to Mount Hood, I had to take four different vehicles — two trains and two buses — which I caught in four different towns in the Portland metro area. But first I had to get to Wilsonville! My outing began when I left home in Albany at 5:00 AM and arrived at Wilsonville Station — located about 15 miles (by crow) south of downtown Portland — exactly an hour later.

Before the Westside Express Service (WES) commuter rail train left at 6:21, I had time to photographically explore the public art on display there — like the “in­ter­est­ing” and “different” Interactivators sculptures, the “Let’s Dance” statue, and the ornate, 35-foot clock tower. Nothing like a good dose of culture before a four-hour commute to the ski slopes!
Soon it was time to board the diesel WES train for the first leg of my four-stage journey. Comfort-wise they are definitely a step up from the MAX Light Rail trains used in most of Portland. However, MAX trains are much quieter because they are electric. Because my iPad Mini has cel­lu­lar service, I didn’t need the train’s Wi-Fi, but I imagine some passengers would be happy to use it.
After a 27-mintute, 15-mile ride north, I arrived at the Beaverton Transit Center, about six and a half miles WSW of down­town Portland. During my 15-​min­ute lay­over I had time to seek out and pho­to­graph the public art at this station.
All aboard the MAX Blue Line for the second stage of my trip, to Portland’s far east. During the 71-minute, 23-mile voy­age to the Gresham Central Transit Cen­ter the train made 31 stops! Three cheers for mass transit!
Safely deposited at the Gresham TC, I left the rails behind and began the third stage of my journey by connecting with the Sandy Area Metro bus which pro­vides service every half-hour between there and the Sandy Transit Center, 12 miles south­east, for only one dollar — what a deal! After a futile search for a public toilet (and public art) during the 15-​minute layover, I was on my way, desperately hoping there would be fa­cil­i­ties (and art!) at the next stop.
Twenty-five minutes later I arrived in the small town of Sandy, about 22 miles from downtown Portland as far as crows are concerned, on the very eastern fring­es of the metro area. My longings were ful­filled, because I found both art — in­clud­ing this salmon sculpture fountain — and a bathroom at Mountain Moka around the corner. In order to earn my right to use their facilities, I bought a delicious glazed multi-berry scone, and an orange juice to wash it down. With one more long leg of my public transit to go, it was definitely time for some re­fresh­ments and some relief!
After my multipurpose visit to Mountian Moka, I still had quite a bit of my half-​hour layover remaining, so I wandered back to Centennial Plaza, which doubles as the Sandy Transit Center, to enjoy my snack and watch the water gurgle over the salmon fountain. Promptly at 9:25 AM — almost exactly three hours since I had left Wilsonville — I was eastward-bound on the Mount Hood Express, which charges a modest two-dollar fare. Wagon, ho!
After 65 minutes, 27 miles as the crow flies, and 46 miles as the road winds, I arrived at my final destination — a total of 96 transit-​miles and 249 transit-​min­utes from Wilsonville Station. Tim­ber­line Lodge (not the building in the photo) is situated at around 6,000 feet, just over halfway up the southern slope of the 11,249-​foot Mount Hood, the highest peak in Oregon.
The historic Timberline Lodge was con­struct­ed between 1936 and 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. This hotel, with two restaurants, is the main build­ing in the Timberline Lodge ski area, which is the only ski area in the U.S. with lift-​accessed skiing and snow­board­ing all twelve months of the year.
A 90-foot chimney with three fireplaces dominates the main lobby of the Timber­line Lodge. The upstairs gallery hosts the Ram’s Head Bar and restaurant.
Every day, the Cascade Dining Room hosts an all you can eat lunch buffet. Even though Portland area restaurant prices seems kind of on the high side, at $19.50 for the buffet and $5.75 for a beer, it seems to this country bumpkin that you are definitely paying a premium for the location. I could have just as good a meal at home for half the price! But that is true of almost any restaurant. Besides, in my 50s I don’t eat nearly as much as I did in my 20s, so it is hard to get my money’s worth out of an all-you-can-eat meal.
While I was waiting for the buffet to open, I took some shots of glass bottles glowing in the windows at the Ram’s Head Bar upstairs. Their menu looks interesting ... perhaps I should give it a try the next time I’m up there ... which probably won’t be for some time.
After lunch I still had a good two hours before the bus left for my four-hour re­turn trip, so I went outside and explored the area a bit. In this photo you can see the 10,497 foot Mount Jefferson, the sec­ond-​highest peak in Oregon, about 50 miles to the south. In the foreground is part of the Magic Mile chairlift.
In the days leading up to this trip to Mount Hood, I had the idea of making a time-lapse video So I wandered a ways up the mountain from the Lodge, until I found a good view of both Mount Hood and the Magic Mile chairlift. I had made it a point to bring my hiking tripod, but silly me, I had forgotten to pack my intervalometer. Bad dog!

At least I did have my wireless remote shutter release (see the intervalometer link) with me. But without the in­ter­val­om­e­ter to do the work, I had to keep my eye on my watch, and press the remote shutter release once every 15 seconds for a full 62 minutes! It got a bit tedious, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.

Click on the play button to watch this ten-second time-lapse video, comprised of the 251 photographs I took during that hour.
The speed of the chairlift combined with the frequency of the image cap­turing (every 15 seconds) causes the lift to appear to be running back­wards. I should have taken a shot every 10 seconds instead. And I should have brought my intervalometer. Oh well ... live and learn!

If you watch closely, you can even see “yours truly” as I was walking around in some of the shots. The music is from the beginning of the track Atman by the dynamic duo Rodrigo y Garbriela on their album 11:11.

Once I got back home I decided to make some changes in my equipment. Rather than having both a wireless remote shutter release and a wired in­ter­val­om­e­ter, I just purchased a wireless remote intervalometer for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera.

After standing there for over an hour pressing the shutter release more than 250 times, it was nearly time to catch the Mount Hood Express bus back to Sandy. Because of major roadwork on U.S. 26, we were delayed enough to make it look like I was going to miss my connecting bus in Sandy, even though there had been a scheduled ten-​minute layover.

When we finally arrived in Sandy, the bus to Gresham was still there, so I bounded out of the bus and raced towards it. Right as I approached the door it began to pull away! I banged on the door, the bus stopped, and the driver let all of us latecomers aboard. Whew! That was close! Definitely no spare time for photos!

This bus arrived in Gresham early, so I was able to take an earlier MAX Blue Line train for the long 72-minute trip back through downtown Portland to the Beaverton Transit Center. But it didn’t do me any good, because I arrived in Beaverton a few minutes too late to catch an earlier WES train back to Wilsonville. So I had nearly a half-hour layover to wait for the train I had originally planned on taking.

I made good use of that time taking some more pictures of the weird sculptured heads which I had already pho­to­graphed at the Wilsonville Station at the beginning of my outing. Eventually I arrived back at my truck, 12 hours and 10 minutes after I had left it early that morning. But there was still one more experience to enjoy before I made it back home.

As you can tell by some of my recent articles, stopping at the newish Gustav’s Bargarten in Keizer — about half­way between Wilsonville and my home in Albany — is in danger of becoming a new habit. A stein of beer and a bite to eat is a great way to wrap up a photo outing to the Portland area.

After the big lunch buffet at Tim­ber­line Lodge I wasn’t over­ly hungry, even though I had eaten about seven hours pre­vi­ous­ly. Therefore, instead of or­der­ing a meal, I settled on a large pretzel with spicy, whole-grain honey mustard. I have hardly ever eaten such pretzels in my half-century on this planet, and wasn’t too sure I would even like it. But let me tell you, it was killer! And the mustard was great — it really cleared out my sinuses!

Unfortunately, the price was as intense as the mustard! Between the pretzel, the beer and the tip, I was out fif­teen bucks! It was certainly a wonderful snack, but I don’t know that I can afford to indulge in that very often. How­ever it did set me thinking. As I mentioned above, eating at home can be just as good (or better!) than a res­tau­rant at half (or less!) the price. So why not pretzels?

After a bit of research, I found the book Pretzel Making at Home by Oregon based food writer Andrea Slo­neck­er. According to the book, she is the executive director of the Portland Culinary Alliance and a chef instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Port­land.

Not only does this book have numerous pretzel recipes with lots of tips and great photos, but it also has a section on how to make various toppings, including a “spicy whole-grain pub mustard” made with German doppel­bock beer, which takes at least three weeks to “ma­ture” (the mustard, not the beer!). I have not made any­thing yet — for now I’m working on getting the necessary in­gre­di­ents and kitchen utensils. But I’m very eager to dive in, and in the near future I will — stay tuned!

During this public-transportation outing to Mount Hood, I took a total of 366 photos. As I have already mentioned above, 251 of those were used to make the ten-second time-lapse video. Because the remaining pictures focus on two different subject, I have collected the best shots into two different albums.

Out of all the photos which documented my eight hours of riding mass transit, the best 27 can be viewed in the new Port­land Area Mass Transit 2015 album. The best 30 images from Mount Hood, in­clud­ing the time-lapse video, can be found in Mount Hood Summer Solstice 2015, which compliments my earlier Mount Hood 2010 album.

All in all, this outing was a wonderful and unique way to celebrate the summer sol­stice. It was intriguing and satisfying to be able to take public transportation all the way from Wilsonville to Mount Hood. But it was definitely a time-​con­sum­ing and tiring way to travel, so I doubt that I will repeat the journey. My next trip to Mount Hood will almost certainly be by automobile.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 449
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