Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bear Mountain Lodge

Monday, Aug 7

Originally Mark and I were going to have a date in New York City. I  had hit upon the plan to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens so Mark could show me his favorite plants from his last visit; and then we could visit the Brooklyn Museum to see their Egyptian Wing, which I've only seen for about twenty minutes over a decade ago.  But they were closed Mondays.  Mark didn't want to go to the MET or The Cloisters, which were the only museums in the city which were open.

Mark suggested that I go to the MET by myself, but I said that I had been looking forward to seeing something with him.  We were further constrained by needing to be at Kevin and Jackie's this time to actually meet with Jackie and their older boy.

The Internet came to the rescue with a picture of the Bear Mountain lodge, which looked like the Mt. Hood lodge and which was not on the other side of the state (actually, we'd driven close to it when we'd gone to Storm King).

Off we went.  It was raining.  Mark said that he'd actually run around Bear Mountain Park when he was on the high school track team, and later attending dance (and drinking) events in the lodge.  As we visited various locations I could hear the partial recognition in his voice.

The weekend had not been kind to the grounds; abandoned garbage was strewn about grills, picnic, and parking sites.  Mark suggested that we should create a photo exhibit of the site as patrons left.  I added that we should print the pictures, crumple them up, and litter them around the site so that patrons could participate in an interactive art installation.

Mark was worried that a kid's camp (or ten) might be having a field trip, but we pretty much had the park to ourselves.  It's possible Bear Mountain Park was also a state troop headquarters, as there were a number of state and police vehicles parked there.  We got out and tried to not look suspicious.

The mascot of Bear Mountain Park is a black bear with a (walking?) stick.  The Arts and Crafts buildings were mostly built by the WPA during the 30's out of river and glacier stones.  The impression that we were looking at a relative of the Mount Hood lodge was much stronger now that we were seeing the buildings in person.

We wandered around a carousel building; I took photos through the glass windows.  The carousel had panels along the rim of its canopy which appeared to be moments in Bear Mountain history.

From the outside, the lodge looked like a rustic version of Rivendell.  As we walked toward it, we saw a flock of large black birds roosting on the roof.  At first we thought they might be ravens, except they had necks like water fowl.  When some glided from the roof, they more like cargo planes.  It turned out they were black vultures.

The inside had had a face-lift in the eighties or nineties, and was kind of bland.  There were a couple of places in the stone walls where arched doorways had been filled, and a new square entryway had been cut out.   The main dining hall, however, still retained most of its Arts and Crafts charm--I especially liked the fireplace.  The furniture was rustic and cute.

We had lunch -- unfortunately, the sound system was tuned to a 24X7 Grateful Dead channel.  Mark remarked that we were probably the only two Eugenians who wouldn't appreciate the music.  It became more painful to listen to as lunch progressed, but at one point it was instructive as I explained to Mark how some Deadheads would be "Waiting for a Miracle" outside of live shows.

Afterward, we strolled through the Zoo and Historical Park.  Probably the funniest signs were for the Rattlesnake Display ("What would you do if it broke?") and the Clovis Hunters display with a gropey mastodon absconding with a busty Clovis woman.  I'm pretty sure we alternated damsel-in-distress versions of "Oh Halp! Halp!" with fits of giggling for about five minutes.

I'm trying to think of what in Oregon is like Bear Mountain, and the only think that comes to mind is the Eastern Oregon Nature Interpretive Center...or maybe Wildlife Safari...  except you walk everywhere and there's a swimming pool.  So I guess it's like a cross between a summer camp and a natural history museum.

We saw bobcat, weasel, several types of owl, brown bears, coyote, snakes, frogs, bald eagle, red-tail hawk, and all sorts of trees.   The brown bears were particularly interesting because the older one looked like a two dimensional Native American bead.

There was hardly anyone else at the park; every five minutes or so we'd bump into one or two other people.  The park is on the Appalachian Trail, so a good portion of them were hikers with giant packs.

At the far end of the park we came to a toll bridge.  The toll booth and highway maintenance building next to it reminded me of a German Schloss and an an Arts And Crafts Studio respectively.  Hiking was free, so we walked along it, singing "Yodel hey hee hoo!"

The gorge fell away and we were suddenly five stories above a river.  Stickers on the girders directed the suicidal to a hotline phone nearby.  I wondered who would jump off of the bridge--were they local townsfolk, and where was the nearest town, anyway?  Any how many were enough to justify an outdoor, on-the-bridge hotline?

I almost took a picture of a large butterfly resting, somewhat sheltered by the wind and rain, on the railing next to the bridge's walkway, but I opted to just enjoy it.
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