Saturday, October 29, 2011

Architecture, Life and Google Earth.

This image on Google earth caught my eye while perusing New Zealand's south island. It reminds me of the sophisticated type of site plan you get when you work with your surroundings. When the rivers and roads, the views and the sun all inform your site and your buildings.

A wonderful site plan, so architectural it looks like a rendering, but is an actual site along Tepako Canal Road on the South Island of New Zealand.
Alvar Aalto was a true master of integrating buildings with their surroundings and I have to thank Kieth Loftin (UCD graduate Architecture professor) for passionately explaining such things to me early in my design career and for forcing his students to draw our site and buildings with a single continuous line over and over until we generated these types of believable arrangements where the topographic lines and the buildings work as one.

Alvar Aalto Site Plan
Of particular note is the shadow line created by the formal tree plantings. It's geometry and massing set the stage for the relationship towards existing portions of the built environment, including the old farms and roads, the new roads and canal, and the surrounding fields that are neither split nor contiguous.

Mt Adams on the PCT, 2011
It is this type design which I've been aspiring too create for 20 years, but have found myself burdened with the details of running a business which continues to displace daily tasks farther and farther away from design.  Recently inspired by hiking 285 miles of Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail (September 2011) coupled with a need for a total life overhaul, I'm very seriously considering thru hiking New Zealand on their newly completed (2011) Te Araroa trail.

Te Auaroa trail, New Zealand.
The trail is 3000 km (over 1800 miles) running from the Northern most tip of the North Island at Cape Reinga all the way to the southern most part of the South Island terminating at a Bluff on Foveaux Straight.  My intent is to hike the whole way this winter (it's summer down there!) and then come back mid April and hike the entire PCT. 

dbBrad on the PCT with nothing but a backpack and happy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rescue 911 at Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainier National Park.

Bears Breast Mountain, no where near Naches.
The Naches loop trail is a stunning couple of miles winding from a meadow filled with lakes and tadpoles across an amazing stone bridge built during the CCC era and around Nache's peak with stunning views of high alpine Cascades with goblin trees, stunning wildflowers and water springing from the ground out of hidden chasms filled with clear cold snow melt.

'Enchilada Lakes' named by dbBrad. Several unnamed lakes up from Escandito.

Elizabeth and Steve, (82 and 84 years) have been hiking the northwest for many many years. Today was no different. Perfect weather with few people. As they neared the end of the hike, Steve stumbled on a root and literally dove off the trail. The trail is cut into a 60 degree slope of rock, wild flowers and stunted evergreens and is oozing with water nourishing the plants desperately trying to hold on.

Beautiful bridge restoration
at Mt. Rainier National Park.
Steve went head over heals over the edge displacing a flat basket ball sized rock with his head and coming to rest some 30' down the mountain.

Steve nearly back up on the trail
Along comes Debbie running down the trail to notify the park crew working on the bridge. I hear what I need to hear. At last a use for this 5 lb. first aid kit I've hauled across Washington. I run the half mile to where he'd fallen and help him climb up the hill where rangers and then paramedics buttoned him up for travel before wheeling him out on a unicyclecot with a big knobby tire suitable for the rough terrain and into an ambulance with an hour ride to Enumclaw hospital.

Debbie (Rescuer)
and Elizabeth
Steve and Elizabeth called me just the other day to thank me for my efforts and for crawling around on the hill for 20 minutes to retrieve their beloved Lumix camera. Such a nice couple and they plan to keep hiking. I think though that the incident was eye opening for Elizabeth, so used to Steve's companionship and with no family near by, that she realized her vulnerability. She had no keys, money, ID or purse and was very shaken by the incident.

As it turns out, I was waiting for my dad to join me on the trail when the incident happened and an extra passenger in the car with him and Susan (Susan's good friend, Carol) was able to drive Elizabeth down to the hospital to rejoin Steve. It all worked out great thanks to the rangers and crew of the bridge renovation.
From left to right, dbDad, wife Susan, friend Carol and dbBrad
enjoy a picnic before my dad and I departed for our 5 day outing.

A quick video of the entire story on YouTube PCT 2011 live coverage!

Monday, October 3, 2011

dbDog hikes the PCT

I just returned from my hike along the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail, 2011). I was on the trail for 34 days and I hiked a total of 285 miles across Washington. I started out with my dog Benton.

dbMountain Dog.
Benton is only 10 months old however and as it turned out, he just couldn't handle it.

Benton with his pack sponsored by Wander on Whidbey.

He was strong enough physically and he has great instincts in the wilderness and on the trail, but he just wasn't getting enough sleep.

dbDog and lorax flowers

I have read that puppies and even grown dogs require up to 17 hours per day which clearly can't be had and hike for 8 hours a day too.

dbDog taking a look around after having a cold drink
And then there's the issue of how well is he sleeping in a foreign strange environment with big animals lurking about and going crunch nearby in the night.

It didn't mater where we were going, Benton always knew the way!
Clearly he displayed the tendency of being protector and looker-outer and when I had a guest join me, it added a new job, keeper-together.


But after two weeks of it, he was getting pretty tired as observed by some difficult behavior and displaying a slight limp so I sent him home and finished my hiking alone.

Benton thought my sleeping bag was the Cat's Meow and he's right!!
Now what he wants is a lightweight tent called the DogsRoof!!

I can tell you that first night without him was a little lonely. I missed the heat and the nose for predators.

He's Benton, the cutest Australian Shepherd in the world and I call him dbDog!

Like most Australian Shepherds, Benton goes crazy on the snow and ice.