Man In A Suitcase

Mt. Hood, Oregon

Following a pretty massive reorganization (a reorganization in the computer business? How unusual!) my marketing team was packed up and delivered to the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood for a team building exercise. The lodge was used for the exteriors of The Shining (a movie that left me less than impressed, not that that's relevant to my visit). The interiors were shot at a much larger hotel in Denver and there's no labyrinth in front of this hotel. In fact, there's a rather precipitous drop in front of this hotel. In any event, here are a couple of views from the lodge. The first is the view from our meeting room. In August. Really. The second is from the front door. See? No labyrinth.

On arriving at the lodge we took the chair lift up the mountain and had lunch. I took these on the walk back down to the lodge. As you can see, the trail is mildly steep. (I was walking wounded for a couple of days afterward.) The views, on the other hand, were spectacular. And the team building exercises had their moments of interest. Did they help build us into a team? Not so far. Just how long is this team building supposed to take?

Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon is a pretty little town near the California border. Known mostly for its annual Shakespeare Festival, it is full of craft shops, trendy restaurants, backpackers and other reminders of just how far back into the mists of time were my own college days. (Not that you would ever see me with hiking shoes and a backpack; hell, no!) From the looks of things the town has done very well by old Will. Things are clean and well maintained and orderly and not so cute you want to spit up. Although the English pub loses a lot of points for authenticity. The food was way too good and the Guinness too far below room temperature. (That was not a complaint. An observation but definitely not a complaint.)

Walking around, you can imagine pretty easily what Ashland must have looked like before it became a Mecca for theatre buffs, back when the downtown shops sold more hardware than gourmet foods and the Varsity still ran popular movies instead of art films. Do the locals regret what has happened to their town? Do they wish the mountains at the state line were just a little higher, the better to keep Californians like yours truly on our side of the fence? (Heading back into California you are stopped by agricultural inspectors to keep you from bringing contaminated produce into the state. Do Oregon and Arizona and Nevada ever think of putting up inspection stations to keep unwelcome attitudes from infecting their way of life?)

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is a pretty important area for those of us in the computer business. It's home to Boeing, one of our best customers; Microsoft, our most persistent competitor; and Nintendo, which is both a good customer and major source of stress relief. It's also an extremely pretty place, at least in the parts that Billy Gates hasn't despoiled. Yet.

Snoqualmie is a small town less than an hour's drive east of Seattle. It's home to some impressive old railroad engines and cars, an outlet mall, a Nintendo plant behind the outlet mall and this: Snoqualmie Falls. Not exactly Niagara (somehow I can't picture the Three Stooges doing "Snoqualmie Falls! Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch...") but a pleasant stop on the way across the mountains. (Assuming of course that you can get across the mountains.) And it's only a short and not too terribly arduous hike down to the bottom for a closer look.

Some of my favorite pictures are studies in contrast, like the view of a snow-capped mountain from Snoqualmie's outlet mall. It certainly improves the look of the mall, but what does it do for the mountain? Or a local station for the Bellevue police, which was designed to fit in with the decor of the local shopping mall. To me it screams Keystone Kops. But that's certainly a better image than L.A.'s former police chief Daryl Gates and his storm troopers beating up on innocent motorists.

Now there's something you don't see every day: a suburban office park with valet parking. As I understand the story, Microsoft was allowed to build this site in Bellevue with the strict understanding that it wouldn't expand beyond an employee population agreed to by the city. Parking was limited to the agreed size, which proved grossly inadequate when Microsoft grew its staff way beyond the agreed limits. The parking situation got so bad (think shopping mall at Christmas) that they had to hire a company to help employees find places to park. If it helps, Bellevue, a lot of Microsoft's partners know exactly how you feel.

Not all of Seattle's charm is in the suburbs. Downtown near the harbor is Pike's Market, a popular place for both locals and tourists. Where else can you buy fish, vegetables, baked goods, hot sauce, tee shirts and all manor of tourist junk to the sound of a pair of hammered dulcimers? Pike's reminds me a little of Quincy Market in Boston, but without the gentrification. No Gap or Sharper Image here; just natural foods and old and new books and a very cool magic shop.

Home / US Index / Back: California / Next: Hawaii / Last: Texas

Google Web
 Comments to: Hank Shiffman, Mountain View, California