Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them.
This AmeriCorps training — which doesn’t end until Tuesday morning, by the way — feels almost exactly like going on state trip, except with the addition of beer and without the junior high hormones. For those of you who never went on state trip, it’s like going to camp, except you drive around a specific portion of Washington and learn about its features. This “training,” while actually training us on first aid, providing us with the opportunity to spend hours filling out confusing and repetitive government forms, and providing vast volumes of truly spectacular food, also has eerily state trip-like features:
- We listened to a talk by a Forest Service archaeologist on the native peoples of the Columbia Gorge;
- We hiked at a local hot hiking spot (Catherine Creek);
- A forester from a nearby town talked to us about community forests and sustainable logging;
- Today we hiked up Beacon Rock; and
- We went on an excellent hours-long tour of Bonneville Dam led by the world’s most patient Army Corps of Engineers/Forest Service employee.
Those location-specific educational activities strongly remind me of state trip. On top of that, a few more things bring state trip to mind:
- We have spent many hours driving in massive Ford SUVs crammed to the gills with people, much like on state trip, and most reminiscent of all,
- We all have to negotiate on what music to listen to.
I remember some bitter disputes over music on state trip, but happily in that area, at least, we seem to have matured: Mostly we just listen to whatever the person in the front chooses and I’ve heard no major complaints yet. Also, iPods can hold exponentially more music than a single CD, so eventually most people will hear at least one song they like.
On Friday we spent most of the day in Portland with our sponsors, getting to know them better (which I thought would be superfluous since I’d met Every before but actually turned out very helpful for both of us). Friday night everybody went spent the evening in Hood River drinking; I went along, but only for company. The power went out in downtown Hood River, so we had to migrate a bit. By 9:30 I was ready to leave, and happily a carful of other people felt the same way, so we got back before 11:00. Trout Lake, by the way, is completely isolated. I couldn’t imagine living there.
Saturday we had as a day off, and most people seemed to need it. Hardly anybody dragged out before 9:00 am. I went for a walk around the Natural Area Preserve across the street; it’s one of the last areas where Oregon Spotted Frogs live, although we didn’t see any. We did, however, see evidence of beavers (several small trees felled and dragged away — turns out one of the guys on the hike had spent time giving educational talks about beavers, so he knew a ton about them) and a bald eagle flew by incredibly close. We stood and watched it with our mouths gaping open. Then we went and swung on huge swings and of course the guys pushed each other and then jumped off the swings.
Today I really wanted to go to church, but they had us rolling to Beacon Rock by 9:00 am. We walked up Beacon Rock and then went to the Bonneville Dam for lunch, which we packed ourselves, and a fabulous hours-long tour. The tour guide deserves a medal. She treated us almost exactly like 5th graders, and it worked great. We saw steelhead in the fish ladder, which is apparently unusual for this time of year, as well as a few seal lions, a school of sturgeon with their dorsal fins cutting the water like sharks’ fins, an eagle grabbing a fish, and a number of cormorants (the one that swam by in the fish ladder particularly surprised us). The tour guide spoke comprehensively on salmon, their life and reproductive cycles, the impact of dams on the salmon, the sea lion problem, and anything else salmon-related. Then she led us to the dam and educated us on its workings, took us to see the turbines, and had everybody play-act what happened in the dam. In all we spent quite a few hours there.
Here are some pictures from the Bonneville Dam, which had carpet I initially thought was hideous, but that turned out to have excellent photographic qualities. Also they had bikes for employees to ride, which totally made my day.
And that’s the news from Lake Wobegone.