16 September 2011

Skywatch Friday: like a house a'fire, summer is ending

Summer is at and end with the first heavy frosts gracing the hills of the Continental Divide ringing Butte, Montana. Large forest fires are burning throughout the northwest United States. Though the heavy smoke obscurs our view of the mountains (visibility is usually 60 miles or so), it makes for outstanding sunsets (view from Montana Tech):

On a recent trip to the Portland, Oregon, area for a wedding, we began our visit on the deck of a the Mount Hood Winery:

And watched as the fire on Mt. Hood went from "laying low:"

To a major "blow up:"

Fires and all, the Columbia Valley is a lush place with abundant wild fruit, like these blackberries:

And lots of excellent farm stands with yummy fresh produce:

No trip to the Portland area is complete without visiting a few of the many wonderful brewpubs. We took in music (and a few pints) at the Double Mountain Brewpub:

Samplers and pints at the Coalition Brew Pub (a true 10-barrel microbrewery with OUTSTANDING English-style ales):

And even a visit to the McDonald's or Starbucks of beer, one of the many McMenamins locations--the former Kennedy School, with its movie theatre, several restaurants and bars--including a bar with a "steam punk" theme:

We worked off the brewpub visits with activities such as a hike up Beacon Rock:

Get a load of those walkways bolted into the cliff face! (looking up):
(and down):

A visit to just one of Portland's several incredible, sprawling Rose Gardens:

As always, walking around Portland delivers architectural delights, ranging from this quonset-hut house:

To the fantastic architecture of this building supply store:

Oh yeah, we were there for a wedding, and that was great fun too. How can you not have a wonderful time when the wedding begins with the arrival of the bridal party in "pedicabs?":

Back at home, fires around East Missoula and Phillipsburg are still mostly out of control with tens of thousands of acres ablaze (see Montana Forest Fires):

Still, as with our visit to Portland, we're not letting our summer fun go up in smoke. This past weekend marked the Boulder Music & Art Festival -- a fun, low key event with good local music including Mariah Paige (she did a knockout version of Miranda Lambert's "Famous in a Small Town"):

And our favorite--little yodelin', fiddlin' sensation Bridget Reedy (with her Dad accompanying on guitar): 

 Summer is nearly gone, but we are enjoying those last few sweet drops.