Archives for category: — Oregon

rough-skinned-newt

In honor of Halloween, here’s a spooky but true tale. In the 1950s three Oregon hunters went missing. They were discovered, weeks later, dead, around their campfire. There were no signs of foul play. Nothing had been taken from the camp nor did any of the hunters bear signs of injury. The only odd thing investigators found was rough-skinned newt, also dead, at the bottom of their coffee pot.

The case remained unsolved for about 10 years until a biologist named Butch Brodie discovered that the newt’s skin produces a toxin called TTX, a toxin 10,000 times deadlier than cyanide.

Apparently though these rough skinned newts don’t just go killing everything they touch. They only produce toxin when they feel highly stressed or threatened, like being scooped up from a stream in a coffee pot and boiled alive. In those kinds of situations, they arch there heads back as a warning and then let the toxins flow…

To read more about this, and to learn how these newts got so toxic in the first place, check out the links below.

Links:
Discover: A Beautiful Web of Poison Extends A New Strand : The Loom

Mental Floss: Silence of the Newts

via WCXCPhoto: Joshua Ashcroft

This summer our friend Josh from Portland headed out on the Barlow Road, just south of Mt. Hood with friends for a bit of overlanding. The Barlow Road served as the last portion of the Oregon Trail.

They managed plenty of river crossings and found an amazing looking campsite on an island mid-stream. Josh’s friend Michael posted about their trip on Medium.com. See the link below.

View the rest of the post for a ton of photos.

Links:
Wikipedia: Barlow Road

Medium.com: Barlow Roading
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Here’s a video about a guy who builds a camper shell on the back of his Jeep Comanche to go off surfing in bigfoot country… and then escape. That’s part 2, which is after the jump.

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Photo: Josh Ashcroft

For some reason Portland still has dirt roads within its city limits. Some of them are actually drivable only by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. So someone had the brilliant idea to get a bunch of overlanders together and drive them. The resulting event is called the Portland Urban Safari. They have fun with it. People get dressed up in safari gear. They had Camel Trophy-style number plates made. One team put an inflatable tiger in the bed of their Syncro.

Portland is currently discussing what to do about its unpaved roads. How great to have an urban venue in which to showcase overlanding though. I hope they leave them as is.

There’s an image gallery after the jump. Or check out the Northwest Overland site. You can check out the route map at the Portland Urban Safari site.

Thanks to Josh in Portland for telling about this and providing most of the photos!

Links:
Portland Urban Safari
Northwest Overland Read the rest of this entry »

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All photos: Josh Ashcroft

We’d been planning to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way home from our summer sailing trip. Then in Portland we had the good fortune to run into someone that had actually been there. Amazingly, he recognized our truck from this blog and flagged us down to say hello. To make the most of the chance meeting, we got together for a coffee and swapped travel stories. He said he’d been to the dunes not two weeks before and that they were definitely worth a visit. And he bought us coffee. Thanks again, Josh!

It turns out that the Oregon Dunes are largest coastal sand dunes in North America. They stretch along 40 miles of coast, cover 5,900 acres, and crest to 500 ft. You can camp there. What’s more you can get out and explore this coastal park in your 4×4, motorcycle, or ATV. And we wanted to do just that.

A couple of days later we were in Florence, Oregon, at the northern end of the dunes. (Coos Bay marks the southern end.) We had our orange flag mounted and we were ready to hit the sand. And this is where it becomes a Reader Rides story because, despite my airing down the tires, the truck was packed to the gills and just too heavy to make it up any of the inclines without getting bogged down. Rather than get stuck a half hour before sunset with our summer’s worth of supplies, we packed it in and headed to Coos Bay for the night.

So let me tell you about Josh’s trip. It was hosted by Northwest Overland and featured training by 4×4 veteran, Bill Burke. They covered driving skills, tackling inclines, winch and Pull Pall recovery, and field repair by the looks of it. A lifted Tacoma snapped both its CV joints. But it also looks like they had a great time.

And Josh was kind enough to provide these fantastic photos, more of which, after the jump.

Links:
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area site
General map including camping, parking, trailheads, etc. (pdf)
Detailed map of riding areas and campsites (pdf)

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If you’re interested in ships, and you’re here in California, check out the Lady Washington, a replica of a late 18th-century ship of the same name. The original Lady Washington was the first ship to round Cape Horn and the first American ship to reach the Pacific Northwest.

The replica ship is in San Francisco through tomorrow. You can even sail with the boat on a bay sail or along certain passages, from SF to Rio Vista in the Delta, for example. When she’s not sailing you can go aboard for a tour and her friendly crew will answer questions. She’s docked at Pier 40.

The ship will be making its way down the coast to San Diego by December and back up the coast to Washington, where she’s based, in 2013.

Here’s the ship’s calendar.

This is an early-70s documentary I’m watching at the moment called “Bigfoot: Man or Beast.” The film offers the opinions of both believers and skeptics, and follows a group of researchers in the Pacific Northwest as they try to catch a glimpse of one of these creatures. The film cites a string of evidence dating back to 1811 (and further back in Native American lore) as proof that there really is a population of bipedal, humanoid apes alive and well in the wilds of North America.

It even shows on-screen interviews with men who had early, now-famous, encounters in the 1920s. One reported being carried off by a bigfoot while on a prospecting trip in British Columbia. The other retells of a night he and other prospectors were attacked by a group bigfoot in Washington (after shooting at one, the film neglects to mention). It’s fascinating stuff.

Robert Morgan, the main researcher in the film, went on to write the Bigfoot Observers Field Manual offering practical advice for those interested in seeing one of these creatures up close. My girlfriend, Natalie, gave me a copy and it’s a very interesting read. He reports the creatures to be curious but wary and very clever.

Anyway, enjoy the film. It features some nice shots of vintage Land Cruisers, and a smokey, pre-EPA, tracked buggy, in action.

Watch the rest of the movie after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »