One of my favorite images from my bike trip/photo shoot this summer is “Trestle Dawn,” the image of the sun rising over Bridge 22.3 on the scenic Camas Prairie Railroad in Idaho (December 2014 in my “Trestles of the Camas Prairie Railroad” calendar). I love this so much, and because of favorable comments by others, have decided to make this available as a 28×20 poster ($18.50) and as a 21×16 wrapped canvas print ($99.95).
One of my favorite photos from my bike trip this summer is one I call “Trestle Dawn”: The orange dawn sun reflecting off the rails and tine sheets of Bridge 22.3, one of the wooden trestles on the Camas Prairie Railroad’s second subdivision between Spalding and Grangeville, Idaho, in Lapwai Canyon. Since I like it so much, I’ve made it available as a 250-piece 10×14 jigsaw puzzle on Zazzle. This image also occurs as the December picture in my calendar of Camas Prairie Railroad Trestles.
This July, I took a two-day, 155-mile bicycle trip from Moscow, Idaho, to Lapwai Canyon, to photograph the famous wooden trestles of the Camas Prairie Railroad’s Second Sudivision, a joint Union Pacific–Northern Pacific short line.
I took hundreds of photos and uploaded them to Facebook public albums. No Facebook account is necessary to view these.
Day One—the ride down, plus some views of the trestles from the highway:
Day Two—a nearly 8-mile walk down the unused rails (the rails are not used because a bridge burned in 2011 and is yet to be rebuilt):
I had a 2014 calendar, featuring the best of these photos, on Zazzle (now out of print).
I set out, and the only thing I noticed I forgot was my small, bike-mounted water bottle. Not a big deal, as I had my one-liter bottle and five-quart Vietnam-era military-issue collapsible canteen/flotation bladder in my backpack.
I pushed myself over the hill on Blaine road, where I also took Iverson Loop, a nod to Jake, my roommate this school year. Afterward, I came upon Genessee Valley Lutheran Church, a late-1800s building and congregation (no organ, sadly, except for a Hammond spinet that I wasn’t able to plug in). Turned out it was unlocked and open for visitors, so I when in and took pictures, trying out long-exposure tripod shots, which came off perfectly. I topped off my water here.
After leaving GVLC I continued on to and through the town of Genessee. I got a little mixed up in my Google Maps directions, but it turned out well because the way I went was easier. Plus, I found a small airfield with crop-dusting planes—including a biplane and old low-wing—that I had to photograph. After this began the descent into the Clearwater River valley on a narrow, winding gravel road.
I crossed the Clearwater on US-95, stopped at the historic mission/museum town of Spalding for pictures, then went on my way. After stopping for water at Lapwai, I met two bicyclists in Lapwai Canyon who were riding cross country from Virginia to Oregon. At this time I was within two miles or less from the trestles. Shortly thereafter, a screw on the side of the road gave me a flat tire. To my chagrin I noticed that my bike pump’s mounting bracket had broken, leaving me without a pump. Thankfully a couple from Lewiston stopped and gave me a ride back toward town, after driving back and letting me take pictures from the highway. Between Spalding and the river, we passed those bicyclists, and I thought they might have a pump. We stopped, and sure enough they did.
After airing up the new tube, I decided to head back up into the canyon, a 15-20 mile ride, even though the late hour meant I probably wouldn’t see anything. My strength gave out near Culdesac, so I pulled into town and asked an older guy I saw where I might sleep for the night. As an amazing example of how bad things can be good, he had worked on the Camas Prairie railroad for nearly 30 years serving the tunnels and bridges. He offered to take me up to the top of the grade so that I could walk downhill instead of uphill, as well as catch the early morning light. I accepted, even though I was not prepared for a fairly cold night (less than 50 degrees, in shorts no less). I only had a lightweight hoodie, so I grabbed some pine branches as an inadequate blanket. I only got half an hour of sleep, but I got up at dawn (just before 5) to begin walking and photographing the rail line. It went smoothly, except for a treacherous skirting of the brush-filled canyon slope where Bridge 21.3 burned out.
I finished on the rail line around 11:30 or so, then spent half an hour removing grass and weeds from my socks and shoes. The ride to Spalding went well, but I could tell my strength was fading fast, on top of which my phne died early that morning. The ascent up the Coyote grade nearly killed me, as I had to walk the whole nearly five-mile length with 10 percent or higher inclines. I decided going back to try to follow Google’s directions, which was a bad idea because it took me down a dirt road with many hills, and I didn’t have the strength to manage those. After I reached Genessee, I knew I probably couldn’t make the big hill on Blaine road that Google prescribed, so I decided to take Old 95 and Hwy 95 north to Moscow—another bad idea due to rolling hills.
Several hours later, nearly 8 p.m., I rolled into my parking lot completely exhausted. I took a hot soaking bath, then went to bed.
Excellent post. Really, it takes about as much time to verify your stories as it does to click “share!”
From Christians to atheists and beyond, my Facebook friends run the ideological gamut. I’m blessed to have thoughtful and deep friends from all walks of life.
But after spending years on Facebook, I’ve seen a trend that’s both interesting and troubling: If I find a hoax in my news feed, chances are it will have been shared by an evangelical Christian.
I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. In fact, it’s so typical and intriguing, that I’ve been keeping track of the phenomenon for quite a while. I’ve often wondered why mainstream Christians (not my high-church friends, not my Catholic friends, etc.) are so quick to pass on news stories and testimonials that are untrue. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Today I want to talk through some reasons they need to stop:
1. They’re credibility killers
The Christian message is one that…
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One woman’s determination to succeed in school,
despite being bound to a wheelchair
By Jonathan Gradin
Most people take for granted the ability to walk anywhere, pass through any doorways, travel up and down stairs—even use the restroom without the need of railings or handholds. This ambulatory mindset, prevalent when the University of Idaho campus was built, creates problems for wheelchair-bound people on campus such as 24-year-old English student Ashley Centers.
Cerebral palsy has limited her to a wheelchair since childhood, but this does not stop her determination to succeed, even through academic obstacles independent of her disability. Continue reading →
Dis-Criminal Hate: Discrimination based on sexual orientation an issue in Moscow, on campus; new city code targets housing, employment instances
By Jonathan Gradin
That’s so gay.
This and similar idiomatic expressions can be overheard in average conversations, yet many people don’t realize these are a type of discrimination, called micro-aggressions by counselors and the LGBTQA community. Such discrimination has real and serious effects, which are often overlooked or disregarded in a conservative state such as Idaho.
“Usually, what I see is a kind of covert or indirect discrimination,” said Dan O’Donnell, doctoral psychological intern and LGBTQA liaison with the University of Idaho Counseling and Testing Center, who sees “quite a few” such cases. “This can come across in the form of looks or glances that are uncomfortable for the person receiving them, or more verbal micro-aggressions. Specifically with LGBTQ individuals, they often hear the phrase ‘Well, that’s so gay,’ …that type of phrasing suggests that being gay is not what is normal, and so the psychological effects are reinforcing the idea that being gay is not a normal human experience.” Continue reading →
By Jonathan Gradin
The barber shop holds a quintessential place in Americana. From Andy Griffith’s Mayberry to Moscow, Idaho, barber shops functioned as places for men to hang out, share news and keep their hair trimmed. Nowadays, this tradition is gone, save for a few local shops.
“It’s a shame that the tradition of barbers has and is fading away… Traditionally, the barber shops were a place for men to B.S. and get warm by the stove,” said Bill Jones, 71, semi-retired owner of Bill’s Barber Shop on Second Street. It was “sort of a man-cave situation.”
Jones began cutting hair in 1979, when he he sold his convenience store in Calder, up the St. Joe River from St. Maries. He said he was tired of the seven-day-a-week and extra after-hours nature of the store, which robbed him of family time. Continue reading →
By Jonathan Gradin (Short Article Written Feb. 24 for JAMM-425 Feature Article Writing at the University of Idaho)
Nearly 100 elementary to high school students entered the Kenworthy Theatre Thursday morning for a workshop on free improvisation using wind instruments. As they chattered, Eli Yamin, the workshop instructor, walked through the aisles with an energy and personality reflected in his light bluish-gray paisley shirt.
“Got your instruments?” he asked each group, his wavy black hair slicked back despite his excited motion. “Get ’em out!”
Around the theatre, gleaming brass tenor saxophones, alto saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a baritone horn emerged, as well as a few black clarinets. Those who didn’t have instruments present—including a dozen community members—could use their voices, they were soon told.
Before running through several exercises in free improvisation (music-making without set rules of chord progressions or tonality), Yamin polled the audience as to why the played, both musically and in general. Students around the room shouted responses:
“To be involved in the music!” Continue reading →
My recent Feature Article Writing exercise, about a man for whom a providentially timed car wreck meant saving a family’s life, got me thinking about Romans 8:28—a verse that always seems to be mentioned in times of tragedy, whether tactful or not—and a car wreck of my own that happened more than a year and a half ago.
The oft-cited verse reads “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (NRSV 1989). Many people hear this and subconsciously think this means that everything should be smooth sailing for them, and are disappointed when problems and troubles arise. However, the wording indicates that this is not the case: God uses good and bad events to further his purpose. In this case, he is almost taking a slightly utilitarian view to fulfill the end result.
Personal trainers and bodybuilders are accustomed to the phrase “No pain, no gain”—which is part of the viewpoint this verse engenders, in addition to the contribution of positive life-goods and events. In my case, I saw the literal truth of this principle and verse in the time elapsed since getting rear-ended on July 29, 2011. Forgive me for venting with a long description of the incident, but I promise it builds to a surprising point. Continue reading →
(Written Feb. 13, 2013, this was a short writing exercise for JAMM-425 Feature Article Writing at University of Idaho.)
By Jonathan Gradin
History student Matt McCune does not fit the traditional image of a priest. The 41-year-old clergyman of the Holy Name of Jesus Anglican Catholic Church resembles a rugged cowboy, with bushy red mustache, long hair tied back and lines of age and experience creasing his face. He wears an informal, black buttoned shirt and a long, gray coat and walks with a well-worn wooden cane.
Yet like the cowboys of olden days, McCune has experienced many trials, including a car wreck in 2008 that had providential implications for this man of faith.
“In April 2008, I had gone to Austin, Texas, ahead of my wife,” McCune Continue reading →
(This was a short take I wrote Jan. 29, 2013, for JAMM-425 Feature Article Writing at University of Idaho.)
By Jonathan Gradin
Every year, new college students complain about the cold as temperatures dip below freezing. Moscow resident and retired physical education teacher Terry Peterson, who grew up in Pullman, holds that “they don’t know what cold is.”
Her claims are well founded.
Terry and her husband of 45 years, Mike, are survivors of the coldest winter in Moscow history, which peaked on the night of their first anniversary, Dec. 30, 1968. While temperatures in town plummeted to -42 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature in the low-lying Palouse Hills Mobile Home Park (southwest of town) further plunged Continue reading →
Hard to believe summer is almost over—I only have two weeks of work before I move in to the dorms (a week before school starts due to orientation leader training). I’ve had a busy summer so far, so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d prefer. Anyway, you’re probably not interested in this, but here is a rambling of my summer, with maybe some other thoughts that occur to me while typing (ignore if you want, it’s a release for me).
Most recently—a day ago, in fact—I bought a new computer: a refurbished 21.5″ Apple iMac (2.5 GHz i5 quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive, OS X 10.7.4 Lion), to which I will be adding a 2 TB external FireWire/USB hard drive (for backups and video editing projects), 8 GB RAM and an Apple Pro Keyboard (early 2000s—I can’t stand the new slim Apple keyboards). I bought Final Cut Pro X via the App Store and will use it next semester in a broadcast media/digital production class; also, I installed the Adobe CS3 Master Collection (I don’t really want the new CS5/6, as I am most familiar with the CS3 interface; also, I need CS3 for backward compatibility).
As a result of the new computer, as well as school starting shortly, I hope to post more to this blog, including some class video projects and other things.
Basic Summer Status—Paint, Paint and More Paint
After last semester ended mid-May I moved to a friend’s house in nearby Pullman, Washington and began working for Phos Painting, a local painting business comprised of the college pastor at my church (Living Faith Fellowship) and several other of my church friends. This painting outfit is one of the largest in the Palouse area, with contracts to do most of the apartment painting (interior and exterior) for DABCO Property Management, as well as other projects around the region. It’s tiring work, but rewarding—I’ve lost about two inches of waistline since starting—and the people I’m working with are amazing and enjoyable (definitely one of the best work environments I’ve been in).
I typically work 40+ hours per week, doing everything from the 6″ roller (my main painting instrument) to carrying ladders and scraping/sanding/masking exterior surfaces in preparation for painting. We get things done; today I was part of a three-man interior crew that painted two apartments and a three-bedroom, two-story townhouse in Pullman while others worked on a myriad of diverse projects. Over the summer total, we collectively did more than 90 apartment interiors, stairwells and decks at a 23-building complex and the decks and stairwells at another complex.
This ends in two weeks as I prepare to move back into my dorm and attempt to transition to the school life. The only hard part about moving back to the dorms will be the lack of a fully-stocked kitchen available, in which I can cook anything anytime I want to. I love cooking, from cookies to entrées like my mom’s famous oven steak (recipe to follow in separate post) or the chuck roast I cooked this week. Over the summer, I’ve made peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, chocolate-chip/peanut-butter-chip cookies and others, as well as the aforementioned oven steak and tonight’s scratch-made Sloppy Joes.
Highlight: Organ Historical Society Convention—In Chicago!
This summer I was extremely privileged to be named one of seven 2012 E. Power Biggs Fellows, an award by the Organ Historical Society to allow a young person to attend their first OHS convention, all expenses paid. The convention (July 8-13) was a six-day affair of back-to-back recitals in the Chicago area on a multitude of instruments in a plethora of styles. These included a late-1800s Hook and Hastings, several E.M. Skinner organs of various sizes(including the Schantz rebuild of the Rockefeller Chapel instrument), two theatre organs (a silent film and concert on the 3/10 Wurlitzer at the Tivoli Theatre, Downers Grove, and the mammoth 5/80 composite organ at the Sanfilippo residence in Barrington Hills), a Möller organ installed in the Carl Schurz High School and many others, 30 in total.
One feature of the convention that left me awestruck was the hymn singing, which reinforced why I love the pipe organ and prefer traditional styles of worship, even though I attend a contemporary church. Almost every one of the recitals featured a hymn, which was sung by the whole audience with only organ accompaniment (except one concert that featured a brass quartet as well). Most of the attendees were church musicians, choir directors or choir singers, so they knew the hymns well, including the last-verse descant lines and intricate harmonies. The sound of 40+ such people in a high-ceiling church with good acoustics singing their hearts out with the firm foundation of the pipe organ is an experience that can only be believed in person, and which is anything but boring or dull as modern church label it.
My favorite concert was Jonathan Ortloff’s concert at Sanfilippo’s Friday night, a popular program with a mix of humor and serious music-making, all under the auspices of Ortloff’s considerable dexterity and musicality. Songs included “An American in Paris”—not the actual Gershwin piece, but a medley of Gershwin songs, including “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “How Long Has this Been Going On?” played in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The former started as a typical jazzy theatre organ solo, then returned after the latter (which was played with the Hazleton “dirty” sound) in the guise of a Widor-esque Toccata! Also played were “Moon River,” a Stravinsky transcription and the Hymn “Earth and All Stars,” which the whole group sang. The hymn opened with the “Star Trek Fanfare”; Ortloff used the organ’s vast tonal resources to convey the items described in each stanza (boiling test tubes, pounding machinery, loud trumpets).
One of the more emotional recitals was Wednesday morning at Carl Schurz High School, a large Whitelegg-era Möller in a 2,500-seat live acoustic. John Sherer played a program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The recital opened with Elgar’s “Empire March” and Edwin Bairstowe’s “Elegy,” both of which were written in 1912. Next were three short numbers heard aboard the ship that fateful day: Sousa’s “El Capitan” march, Offenbach’s “Barcarolle from ‘The Tales of Hoffman'” (played two hours before the iceberg collision on the ship’s orchestrion [player organ]), and Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” which was played by the ship’s band on the deck as the lifeboats were being launched. The first two were played quite well, but a bit more swinging feel could have made the Berlin pop a bit more. The best part of the program was entitled Music to Honor the Titanic Victims and featured Joseph Bonnet’s poignant piece “In Memoriam” as well as the concluding hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” This hymn, which speaks of protection in nautical endeavors, was especially suited to the occasion; between the words, the context and the beautiful harmony, I nearly choked up with tears on the last verse.
The trip had too many exciting things to recount here, but I will recall one last thing: I had the privilege of pumping the Hook and Hastings organ in Valparaiso, Ind., during James Russell Brown’s performance. The first piece (Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”) featured the organ’s electric blower; however, the remainder of the 45-minute recital was played using wind supplied by the old-fashioned pumping mechanism to the side of the organ. A long handle attached to feeder bellows provided air to the main reservoir, just like in the old day. It was hard work, but very fun and rewarding!
Well, this post rambled on longer than I meant and—at the same time—not long enough to cover everything. However, I’m tired, and you’ve probably given up reading, so I’ll stop here and wish you all a good night/morning/whatever time it is if/when you read this. I’ll post the recipe to oven steak in a day or two.
Thanks for reading this far in my uninteresting ramblings…
Thomas Dressler’s new CD, “Thomas Dressler Plays the Paul Fritts Organ, Princeton Theological Seminary,” on which I did all the design/typographic work, is now available on CD Baby as a physical CD—recommended because of the superb liner notes and package design, as well as the quality sound from Oasis‘ single-speed mastering—and as an MP3 download.
[EDIT: Apologies for the failed video preview and links in the earlier version. This one should be correct]
Here I play the Bach F Major Prelude (BWV 556), from the Eight Little Preludes & Fugues, on the University of Idaho’s completely original 1953, 3/26 Casavant Freres pipe organ, a wonderfully-sounding throwback instrument rooted in the 1930s and ’40s.
A couple months ago, Pastor Phil Vance at my church—Living Faith Fellowship in Pullman, Wash.—preached a thought-provoking message series about prayer. One message made the point that if we pray in Jesus’ name—meaning according to His will and with His authorization—we will see God acting in our lives more, and more answered prayer.
This got me thinking.