31 July 2010

My dad Clark, to the left, and my brother, Cary, to the right.
The fish that dad and I caught. He'd remind us that 2 of the largest were his :-)
Left: is the view from Detroit dam.
Right: the fish that dad and I caught. He'd remind us that 2 of the largest were his :-)

the golden man at the Salem capital building. *a* duck crossing. Not *the* duck crossing. I like the penultimate duck, wings up in the air!
Left: the capital building in Salem, OR.
Right: a duck crossing. Doubt this is fabled one in the story...
As you know from my last blog entry, I set out for Portland, OR last week to give a talk at OSCON. I arrived Wednesday nite, head south 50 miles or so to Salem, OR - where I stayed with some family. The next day - Thursday evening - I made the trek back up to Portland (in my Uncle's giant, immaculate GMC pickup truck from '89!) for my talk on using Spring Integration to connect business with their customers on Friday morning. My time in Portland - Thursday night and part of Friday afternoon - was very fun. I met Jeremy Grelle. Jeremy was also presenting that morning; his talk was on the Spring Web Stack. (If you didn't know, Jeremy works a lot on the Spring web stack - Spring Web Flow, Spring MVC, Spring BlazeDS, Spring ActionScript, etc.) A Friday at OSCON is a slow day. This particular one was only half as long as the regular conference days. So, as soon as Jeremy and I had finished our talks (they were both well received) we (two colleagues from the Shopzilla engineering group, Jeremy and I) cut out for some food and beer at Deschutes brewery not too far by train from the conference hall.

I took the chance while in Oregon to head south a little bit and visit family in Salem, Oregon. I have a lot of family up there on my dad's side. Oregon's a beautiful state, Portland a beautiful city, but Salem... Salem is a beautiful capital. There are things about Salem you'll have to see to believe. The people are nicer, the air - with Oregon being the greenest state in the union - is cleaner. I spent many a summer in Salem as a kid - making the long trek down to Bend for summer activities, enjoying the parks, the forest and - of course - the jam.

This trip felt like coming home again; I got to visit with aunt, uncle, assorted family, brother, and my niece and nephew. Time flies. I was very glad to see my brother Cary and my sister-in-law Sandy, and their family. It's been a few years, I'm afraid. His son, my nephew, is Curtis. His daughter, my neice, is Samantha.

Honestly, these sorts of stories make me feel old. Curtis was a giant! I hardly recognized him! He handily dwarfed both my brother and myself in stature and size. Whatever they feed those kids there, it's working! He has grown into quite a guy.

Curtis took my dad and I fishing on Saturday. He navigated and was the oreseman, guide, baby-sat us city-folk, handled re-baiting the lines and untangling the poles, and he still caught 5 fish (while helping ensure that dad and I each caught 4-5 fish!) It was amazing! I thought I'd seen everything. It was a catch-and-release river, so we didn't keep or eat anything we caught, but had a lot of fun nonetheless.

On Sunday, dad and I head out to Detroit Dam where we spent the early morning hours - 6 AM to 10AM - with a line hanging off the side of the dam fishing. It was as if the fish were queuing, single-file, and then jumping on our hooks.

Next comes my time with my niece, Samantha, now 16 or 17, going on 40. We spent the afternoons watching her play in a city-wide basketball tournament called Hoopla. They cordoned off certain roads in downtown Salem and had groups of all ages play in matches. First, you have to admire a town where they have the initiative to close down major streets to provide such an outdoor, summer time activity for the youths. Second, my niece was excellent! Her team was ultimately eliminated on Sunday, but it was quite a riveting few matches getting there!

I've long enjoyed Salem. It's a small city with big-city folks. I laughed so hard I hurt myself a few years ago when my aunt and I set out for something and she impatiently came to a stop at a street with THREE cars on it at rush hour. She didn't appreciate being dragged out into the rush-hour traffic - a rush hour of THREE cars. She really didn't appreciate having to stop. I poked my head out the window to see why traffic (I use the term loosely) had come to an abrupt stop, and almost fell over. There was a duck crossing!

I look forward to doing it again next year. What a good trip, with great people. And, being from Southern California, I more than appreciated the 85 degree-highs on a Summer day!