Thursday, July 18, 2013

Two days at Reed College and a hike in the Columbia Gorge

After finishing our vacation in Utah, we spent Friday and Saturday at the Reed College reunion gathering – the college insists on calling it Reedfayre, drawing an allusion to the very popular Rennfayre as well as playing up the concept of inter-generational contact, so that alumni for whom the year is not proximate to a nice round multiple of five since graduation could still have a reason to attend.  I confess that I do enjoy meeting up with Reedies from other years (over the past year, we have hosted several current students and recent alums who needed housing in DC), and I never tire of nostalgic wandering on the campus not to speak of enjoying the Oregon outdoors.  Still, for those such as me who have thousands of miles to travel, I am not particularly interested in coming when a year proximate to my own graduation is not featured (and besides, I get to come to campus for other activities such as Working Weekend.  I hope and expect to be at the World Cup in Brazil when next year's reunions come around.

It was great meeting up with friends from the class of ‘73, the year I walked at graduation even though I identify more closely with the class of ‘72, which I was a freshman. (Our class photo is here).  Having a chance to schmooze with Maurice Isserman, who led the SDS contingent on campus while I was the leader of the "liberal" activist faction, was particularly rewarding -- he teased me about my being more left than he is these days.  Since I got back to DC, I have been slowly reading Fallen Giants, his massive history of mountaineering in the Himalaya.

On Saturday, the alumni board had a special meeting with President John Kroger to get a chance to question him about his rationale for the precipitate cancellation of “Paideia” classes about the consumption of drugs and alcohol.    I credit him for his willingness to sit through a flak-catching session, and he surely showed his trial lawyer’s quickness and verbal facility, but I found none of his reasons persuasive.  I was, however, struck by the satisfaction he displayed about the way in which his precipitate cancellation of the classes had spurred a campus-wide discussion of his desire to stamp out the use of alcohol and drugs on campus.  Could the whole affair have been little more than a way of making a symbolic but emphatic statement of his position?  I'd hate to think that Kroger has so little respect for the value of speech that he employs censorship to make a statement of disrespect for the positions with which he disagrees.  I remain deeply concerned for the future of his presidency of the College. 

Recently, I have been reading Kroger’s memoir of his time as a federal prosecutor.  The book makes him sound reasonable and thoughtful -- the qualities of introspection would surely have appealed to the search committee-- but it is hard to square the Kroger of Convictions with the actions (and hard-line self-defense) of Kroger the Reed College president.

We were not scheduled to fly home until Sunday evening, so we took the opportunity for one more hike.  I like to get up on Mount Hood when possible, but Nancy had never been in the Columbia Gorge, so I chose a hike that would get her before the most spectacular of the gorge views – Multnomah Falls.  We chose the Wahkeena Falls / Multnomah Falls loop, starting with the former with its series of smaller falls

Wahkeenah Falls

Fairy Falls

and pausing at overlooks for fine views of the Washington side of the gorge

The spring wildflowers were still out in profusion

My floral identification expert could not identify this one.  Crowdsource?

Turk's Cap Lily along the Wahkeena Falls loop
After hiking across the face of the ridge on Larch Mountain, and past Weisendanger Falls
Weisendanger Falls

and the Dutchman Overhang,

Dutchman Overhang

we headed back down and braved the crowds for views of Multnomah Falls both from the top, plunging down to a bridge far below,  

Multnomah Falls, from the top

and from the middle and the bottom

Upper portion of Multnomah Falls

Both levels of Multnomah Falls (and the Benson Bridge) from the bottom
We paused for an ice cream then drove back in to Portland where we met several other Reedies for one more meal at the Mekong Bistro – really close to being a first choice dining destination in Portland at this point.  The large number of diners helped us sample even more dishes from the menu.

When dinner was over, Nancy had a hankering to see the Rose Garden.  I  thought we would have time to see this one last sight, but although I had found it easy to walk into the garden when I was carless and living in Portland forty years before, I had not counted on the number of the one-way streets along the way.  By the time we managed to get to the right part of Washington Park, dusk was gathering, and it was too late to find parking and stroll through the garden, so we had to postpone that viewing until another trip to Portland.

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