Tuesday, July 10, 2007

High Desert Heat?

It's been hot in the Pacific Northwest and the High Desert is living up to its name.

I know most of the country has been either hot and wet, or hot and not wet. We have been hot and dry and it will probably stay that way for a while. Beginning Wednesday, there is a prediction of thunderstorms. On the east side of Oregon, that means dry lightning, which means wildfires. There have already been at least two near where I live, a third burning east of me and a bunch even further east.

With the low humidity and high temps, everything is dried out to the point of being a hair's width away from spontaneous combustion. But that is a price people pay for living here. You learn to put up with fires, smoke in the air, fires, high temps and low humidity in the summer, and did I mention fires?

I ain't going to go into a tirade about global warming. But I will say we are in the midst of climate change. I have seen information regarding whether its natural or human caused, but hell, ain't nothing I can do about it...so I might as well enjoy it while I can.

Take today (Tuesday, July 10) for instance. Around 1:30 pm, I packed up the saddlebags on my bicycle, and headed out. It was around 90 or 91 at the time, so I began my trip by heading to Fireman's Pond. It's a favorite place of mine to shoot dragonfly photos, and sometimes birds and damselflies. I spent about 30 minutes standing around Dragonfly Corner (an area of the pond where a lot of Odonata hang out) and only saw Eight-spotted Skimmers. I thought I saw something else, but it was such a quick sighting, I couldn't tell if it was different or not.

Anyway, I decided to head out and went to the airport to check out the action there. At the Forest Service fire center, a fire-bombing Neptune was arriving from somewhere. I watched it taxi in, shut down and while all that was happening, I fired off a few shots. But the action quickly died down and I was off again. I planned to go to the terminal area at Roberts Field, but changed my mind when the only aircraft there worth shooting, taxied out and took off as I was heading over there. I did manage to snap off a few shots of Army Blackhawk helicopters which passed by, but that was about it.

So instead of heading to the terminal, I decided I would check out the airport industrial area. I peddled my fat ass around there for a while seeing what was new and what I already knew and when I got to the end of the area, I stopped at the intersection of the main road and debated with myself as to which direction to travel. One way took me back the direction I came from and the other not the direction I came from.

Being the adventurous, fat-ass I am, I decided to head away from where I came. So I got in the bike lane on Airport Way and headed south. Now remember, it's in the 90s, close to 93 at that time, I'm peddling my bike on the open road under the hot sun and what do I see? A bunch of people driving by in their air-conditioned vehicles...that's what 8v) It doesn't bother me when I see people in their cars all clammed up, staying cool. What does bother me is the looks I get traveling along the road on a day like today. What does it matter to those who see me what I do? I need the exercise and I enjoy the heat.

Well, I continued on my way, and rounded a curve and there in front of me was a nice downgrade, leading of course, to an uphill hump on the other side. One look at me, and folks figure I am just what I look like, an out-of-shape, fat-ass. But I hit that downhill, built up some speed and when I started up the hill on the other side, I got about a quarter of the way up before I lowered my peddling gear. Another quarter of the way, I lowered it again. I went from 8 on the downhill to 3 at the top of the hill on the other side, and never missed a beat.

I went on for a couple of more miles, this time going north, towards home and a nice, comfortable Lazyboy. The only stop I made was at a local department store. There was a shady bench along the side of the building. I stopped and sat there for about five minutes (had to give my buns a bit of a rest from the bicycle seat) and drank some of my ice water -- yes, I had ice water. I keep a frozen bottle of water in my freezer and when I go out on hot days, take it with me. If I am riding the bike, it goes in a box I have lined with insulating material and a cover and that box goes into one of the saddlebags on the bike. The other side saddlebag generally carries my camera.

When I had drank enough water, I walked my bike a ways (didn't want to start cramping up from exercising and then not exercising suddenly), got on it a few minutes later and headed the final mile or so home.

Although I didn't get any really great photos, I did get a lot of exercise. Learned I could do things I thought I couldn't do, and made some people wonder if I am currently suffering from a heart attack. I figure I traveled about 10 miles all total, was out for about two and half hours and am stinging just a little from where my sunscreen was a bit thin.

But I don't care...it was a great day, and there will be more to come...I hope.

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