Joseph and the Abandoned Scout Camp


Recently, one of my best amigos purchased a little fixer-upper project in Joseph, Oregon. I’ve heard great things about the little town, but until a few weeks ago, hadn’t seen it myself. Being about six hours from Portland, it’s not the quickest getaway. However, now that Greg is living there part-time, I’ve got reason to leave the shop for a long weekend once in a while.

More on Greg’s project in future posts, but I though I’d at least start to show some pics from starting visits. A small group of us spent the fourth of July out there and it was quite fun. The route is directly east through Pendleton, then La Grande, then up and around the west edge of Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and dropping into the gateway to Wallowa Lake. It’s a varied and beautiful drive out, with plenty of small town stops that are reminiscent of the small Kansas towns that I grew up around.

Part of the venture was spent on the east moraine of Wallowa Lake watching the fireworks, then exploring around through an abandoned scout camp. Part of the camp history involves a dining hall fire, floods, landslides and finally a mudslide in 2002 that led to the closure. Also nearby is the Wallowa Lake Tramway, which takes riders to the summit of Mt.Howard. From the 8,000ft elevation, you can look out across the Wallowa Mountains and Eagle Cap Wilderness.

If you get a chance, Joseph is really a unique getaway. I’ll be posting more with subsequent trips.

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Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon


Took a rare couple days off recently and decided to check out Bagby Hot Springs in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Even though Bagby has earned decidedly rowdy reputation, I hoped it would be sleepy on a weekday. Upon arrival, thankfully it was. Only a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived, and on the short hike in, we passed all the hung-over campers as they were leaving.

The simple hike follows along the Collawash River and is lined with huge trees – Especially helpful as it was lightly raining most of the day. Walking up to the facilities, we were greeted with a fenced path and a few buildings. There’s a historic cabin, Forestry Service guard house, couple outhouses and the bathhouse. We sheepishly explored the grounds to understand the layout and since there was no one soaking when we arrived, it was easy to claim a tub and start filling it.

After about an hour, a couple other parties showed up. Everyone was friendly and there was plenty of space to enjoy the soak. While we were there, the Ranger stopped in for a cleanup and to make sure fees were paid. The previous nights’ party had left a lot of cans stacked in corners (alcohol is prohibited) and the Ranger was friendly about it, though obviously disappointed that daily cleanups are necessary. It could be an amazingly beautiful facility if everyone would pack out what they brought in, stop setting fires to the benches, carving graffiti on every surface… Regardless, the area is pretty magical when it’s not over crowded and littered.

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Badger Lake, Oregon


It’s been a while since a good canoe trip post, and I’ve been sitting on some pics from a late summer trip to Badger Lake. This was the last trip with my old Mad River canoe, and with so much going on here lately, I’ve had few opportunities to get out in the new one.

Badger Lake is a tiny lake in Mt. Hood National Forest. There’s an easy way to get there, and there’s the iPhone maps way to get there… which is long and arduous. I recommend following the Forest Service directions and map your route accordingly. We had the Land Cruiser packed up with camping gear and the canoe on top and it was a sometimes ridiculously slow route along the old fire roads. Some bowling ball sized rocks and a 4mph downshift to 1st makes for a long trip. Probably added an hour or more to our supposed trip time. It was fun bumping around like that, but just be ready – It seemed to take forever.

After rolling into camp, we found it to be unexpectedly crowded considering the crazy way in… Though the weather was perfect and after finding out there was a much less treacherous way in, it made sense that you’d see a couple mini-vans. Luckily there was a site open and we unpacked for the night. Campsites were close to the lake, and there’s a good area to park and unload too. No ramps of course, and motors are prohibited on this lake.


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House Spirits Distillery


How lucky am I to have made friends in the whiskey business? Very. I Recently spent some time at House Spirits Distillery in Portland checking out their operation and tasting some of their fine spirits.

They’ve been producing White Dog, which is one of their limited releases. If you aren’t familiar with White Dog, it’s a new whiskey straight from the still. Colorless and plenty strong, this is whiskey that’s never touched a barrel. Typically whiskey will be aged in charred oak, all the while darkening in color and mellowing from the process. The aging process can be used to mask imperfections in lesser whiskeys, but with new whiskey like this – there’s nothing to hide behind. The level of craft at House Spirits makes for an amazing and wonderfully drinkable spirit.

Made from 100% malted barley, you can really breathe in the distinctive malt flavor when sipping. A bit of sweetness, and a light spiciness make it easy to drink neat, but with enough heat to really shine though in a cocktail.

Evan Kinkel from House Spirits even suggested a couple cocktails perfect for the occasion:

The White Zombie

  • 1 1/2 oz. White dog
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh pressed lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. B.G. Reynold’s Don’s Mix
  • Dash of Angustura bitters
  • Garnish with mint &lime

Silver Sunrise

  • 1 1/2 oz. White Dog
  • 1 oz. Stumptown cold brew
  • 1/2 oz. Molasses syrup
  • 3/4 oz. half & half
  • Dash of Reagan’s bitters
  • Garnish with an orange disc & cinnamon

If you try some, let me know what you think. If you’d rather stick to your favorite aged whiskey, I’ve got a DIY coming up for you… I’m gonna try to micro-age some White Dog. I’ll post in a few weeks and let you know how it turns out and show you the simple process.

photos taken by Lisa Warninger 
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Basia Bulat Review and Giveaway


I don’t really understand the classification of Folk music. There’s so many sub-genres and variations, and the only tie I can usually make is that it might be primarily acoustic? Folk artists of the 60s tend to pop into my mind first, then I think of Eugene Levy’s character in “A Mighty Wind.”

Basia Bulat is largely considered a folk artist. You’ll read that she plays the autoharp. You might also hear that this album was primarily written while touring through the Yukon. All of these details set a certain expectation for some typically sleepy folk music, right? So you put this record on your turntable and sit back expecting something wistful and sleepy and then the first track ‘Go On’ starts with a little strumming and interestingly sweet vocals as you’d expect… then the drumming starts. And the rhythm gets a little feverish. Then the strings come in. Vocals are getting stronger and you find that you’re not just tapping to it, but you’re kind of stomping!

‘Go On’ seems like the greatest way to start this record. It gets you excited, breaks any notion of what you might be expecting, and then lets the rest of the record unfold. From there, you really notice the contrast in each song – some more complicated and large, some so simple and delicate. ‘Sugar and Spice’ politely scales things back a little, only to break away with another dense and feverishly urgent run with ‘Gold Rush’. Each song shows Basia’s diversity, yet they all weave together for wonderfully cohesive album.

There’s a few great videos available to listen on Basia’s website – my favorite being the ‘Heart of My Own’ performance. Have a listen, see what you think, and if you’re really liking it as much as I am, maybe you’d like a chance for some giveaway loot?

Thanks to a fine friend, the Art Counsel, I’ve got some goodies to give away. One lucky reader will win a copy of Basia’s recent album on vinyl, and one lucky LOCAL winner will get 2 passes to see her upcoming show at The Woods on June 2nd. (Where I bet she’ll be playing this new song.)

Just leave a comment below to say hello, or tell me about your latest favorite record, or whatever… and I’ll draw a winner for the record. As for the tickets – indicate whether you’re available to attend the show in your comment, and I’ll choose the winner from those. I’ll announce the winners one week from today, on Monday, May 30. Good luck!


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Entermodal Bespoke Leather


I like to experiment on a leather project here and there, and even though I can make some things really well, I know my limits. After experimenting, I get better, gain more knowledge, but my amateur status is never more evident than when I meet a true master of the craft.

One such master is Larry Olmstead of entermodal. Larry is one of the nicest folks you could ever meet, and he’s a wealth of knowledge and skill in the leather-working trade. I spent a few visits in the shop talking about leather, processes, mechanization vs. hand made, but I mostly just stood in awe of what was going on in there.

As you can see from the photos, so much is done by hand – cutting, stitching, forming. It’s an fascinating process to see how the raw materials become such a beautiful object. The process takes a lot of hours, patience and attention, and when it’s complete – the final piece is amazing. All materials are carefully chosen and thoroughly researched, ensuring everything is made in the most conscientious way.

Larry’s also working on some new experiments with waxed canvas and leather that utilize some ingenious construction methods – on one bag he’s building, there’s zero canvas material waste – every bit of one yard is used. Just one example of the depth to which Larry thinks about the craft of bag making.

If you’re ever in Portland, you can see his work (and most likely him) on display in the space he shares with Halo Shoes at 938 NW Everett. Want to learn some things yourself? He also hosts leatherwork classes. Some more info and pics here at the entermodal facebook page.


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