Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Goodbye Indian Summer, Hello Sucky Season

Indispensable equipment for Bend motorists

It was nice while it lasted, but Indian summer is no more. It was killed last weekend by an icy blast that blew in from the Pacific, bringing cold, rain and -- last night -- snow.

Not enough snow to make things very pretty -- or, fortunately, to break tree limbs, like last year's Oct. 4 snowstorm did -- but enough to make driving treacherous for Bendites who have not yet gotten their studded tires on, and to create a pain in the ass for those who had to scrape an inch-thick layer of snow and ice off their windshields this morning.

Normally, as Blackdog has previously noted, Indian summer hangs on until Halloween, and then winter comes in like a howling banshee. We got cheated out of a week of nice weather this year. Anyway, at least we HAD an Indian summer, unlike last year.

But the Sucky Season is now in full swing. It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be wet, it's gonna be gray, it's gonna be dreary, and it's gonna be eight months long.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Suckily Mysterious and Deadly Bend Parking Garage

Original Architect's Sketch
for the Bend Parking Garage

Today we’re going to explore the mystery of the Bend Parking Garage.

There’s not much to designing and building a parking garage, one would think. It’s a plain and functional structure. Basically you’ve got a lot of parking spaces and some ramps for cars to go up and down and some elevators and stairs for people to go up and down. We’re not talking about St. Peter’s Basilica here.

But somehow, Bend managed to fuck it up.

I have used parking garages all over this country and have never encountered one that comes close to Bend’s for being bewildering, confusing, inconvenient, and just generally all-around sucky.

All the other parking garages I’ve seen have big signs telling you what level you’ve parked your car on. Not Bend’s.

Other parking garages have exits that are clearly marked and easy to find. Not Bend’s.

Enter the Bend Parking Garage and you enter a dark, catacomb-like maze of ramps and passageways that seem to go up and down and around and around without any discernible logical pattern.

People have been known to enter the Bend Parking Garage and vanish without a trace. Sometimes their bodies are found years later, mummified by the dry High Desert air, lying in corners where they collapsed from cold, hunger and exhaustion after trying in vain to locate their vehicles.

There should be a quote from Dante posted prominently over each entrance to the structure: "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate."

I try to avoid the Bend Parking Garage as much as possible. So do all other experienced Bend citizens. We know better.

But I’m publishing this in case you, the reader, are a visitor or a newcomer and might be tempted to venture into Bend’s uniquely suckitudinous parking garage.

Take a word of advice from your old friend Blackdog: Don’t.

Note of Apology: I screwed up (I'm still not sure how) and inadvertently removed a bunch of the recent comments. My sincere apologies for the loss of your fine literary labors.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Sucky "Colors" of Fall

Top: Sucky Bend "Fall Color"
Bottom: Real Fall Color

The first autumn that Mrs. Blackdog and I spent in Bend, everybody we knew kept giving us glowing descriptions of the glorious "fall color" in Oregon.

"You really gotta drive over the Santiam Pass and see the fall color," they'd advise us. "It's spectacular."

Both Mrs. Blackdog and I had grown up on the East Coast and had loved the truly spectacular displays of color that the trees put on every autumn in New England, upstate New York, and even the less urban parts of New Jersey. (See photo above.)

We had missed seeing the fall color during our years in California. In California, "fall color" refers to the dry brown hills turning green after the first rains arrive. So we were quite excited about driving over the Santiam Pass through the mountains and feasting our eyes on vast expanses of forest gorgeously painted in brilliant reds and golds.

What a letdown THAT turned out to be.

There was, I have to admit, a certain amount of "fall color." There was the occasional maple or aspen or grape ivy bush tinted with red or gold. Or sometimes with one or two leaves tinted with red or gold. (See photo at top.)

But Oregon's forests are predominantly made up of pine and fir and spruce, so their predominant color in the fall (and every other season) is green. There just aren't enough deciduous trees to create a real fall color show.

We should have figured this out before we went on the drive, but we were taken in by the enthusiasm of Oregonians. (It would not be the last time this would happen.)

It was a pleasant enough trip; the weather was sunny and warm, and we stopped for lunch at the historic and quaint Log Cabin Inn in McKenzie Bridge. (It has since burned down.)

But as a fall color experience ... well, it pretty much totally sucked.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Try to Remember a Kind of Semi-Sucky September

Ol' Blackdog declared at the end of August that the summer had ended prematurely and we would experience no Indian summer because of the dreaded Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Just goes to show you that the Bend weather can fool even as experienced a weather-watcher as ol' Blackdog.

September turned out to be a mixed bag -- days of sun, days of suck, chilly days, warm days and a couple of almost hot days.

The month started off with six days of sun, which was followed by three days of suck, which was followed by five days of sun, which was followed by a truly sucktacular seven-day stretch of cold, gray, drizzly, dismal, winter-like weather.

But then -- wonder of wonders! -- the high-pressure area over the Northwest that gives us our pleasant summers and (when we're lucky) Indian summers re-established itself, and the days have been sunny, warm and delightful ever since. (Well, with the exception of one weird warm but overcast day on Sept. 26.)

How much longer will our luck hold? The forecast calls for drizzly and cool weather Monday, but aside from that it's supposed to be sunny and in the 60s and 70s through Oct. 10.

Mark ol' Blackdog's words, however: Indian summer will exit at the latest on Nov. 1, after which we will experience at least seven and a half months of steady suck. And with the climate geeks predicting an extraordinarily powerful La Nina effect this winter, the suck promises to be not only steady but truly sucktacular.

September Totals:

Days of Sun: 19
Days of Suck: 11

YTD Totals:

Days of Sun: 159
Days of Suck: 114