Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini-Vacation, Day 1

I took Friday off work, but since I was working Thursday and we had quite a bit of prep work to do, we didn't get out of here as early as I would have liked on Friday.  It was about 10:00 when we left the house, and we had to stop by Nathan's dad's to get a jacket for him, and we also got some breakfast at McDonald's before heading out.

Heading down the long, boring stretch of 97, I noticed a strange phenomenon.  People slow down to about 45 (the speed limit is 55, unfortunately) when there's no passing.  Passing lane...they hit at LEAST 75.  Seriously.  And I'm not talking about the passing lane being downhill, or just the usual relief of congestion now that faster cars can pass slower ones.  The actual SAME car, toodling down the highway at 45 like it's a nice Sunday drive down a country road, speeds up to faster than I was comfortable going when I finally get the chance to pass.  Over and over again.  Same car in different places, and also a few other cars.  What is UP with that?

We made it to the Crater Lake turnoff, had more of the same on THAT tedious stretch of straight road, then finally got to the fun part--curvy forested roads west of Crater Lake.

Our first destination of the trip was the House of Mystery near Gold Hill, OR.  Their big thing is that they're located on a "vortex," which of course is unexplained.  Nathan and I went in skeptical.  The tour guide made a big show of proving that the platform was level, the posts at each end of it is plumb, etc. etc.  I wondered if the level was rigged, but she later let a volunteer use a level (which if it WAS rigged, wouldn't work if they flipped it around the wrong way), and they claim that they'd let you bring your own level, plumb bob/line, etc.  Now, I didn't actually BRING my own level, but if we assume that they're on the up and up with that, I don't know how they pull the trick.  Two people stand at opposite ends of the supposedly level platform, seven feet apart.  Naturally, one is likely taller than the other.  Then they switch places.  The difference in height between the two people will either have been reduced, increased, or reversed, depending on the height difference between them to begin with.  They do various demonstrations with a stick, tape measures, etc.  Nathan and I were the pair on the platform once, and indeed, he did appear significantly shorter than me (which he is) at first, then when we switched places, seemed to be closer to my height.  Weird.  Here are some photos.  Of course, I can't guarantee that my camera is level, I wasn't standing exactly centered between the posts, and my lens doesn't zoom out enough to get their heads AND their feet in the same shot at this spot (my lens doesn't actually zoom at all), so take it all with a huge grain of salt.

The woman on the right is slightly taller

The same woman, now on the left, is about the same height

Next, the guide led us up to the actual "House of Mystery," which was just like many around the country, such as the one I went to as a kid as Knott's Berry Farm.  Nothing is level or plumb, no angles are right.  So of course everything feels all wonky inside.

The guide talked about how even when you think you're standing up straight, it's not really straight (see her, above, and the plumb line behind her?).  She attributed this to the "vortex," something to do with magnetic fields criss-crossing.  Or, you know, overcompensating when in a weird environment, and the fact that people tend to lean uphill a little.

She also did a demonstration about height changes again, inside the "house," but this time did attribute them to optical illusions rather than the vortex.  And she showed us how a glass bottle will roll "uphill," but again attributed that to a simple optical illusion.  Lastly, she rolled a golf ball what appeared to be downhill, but it rolled right back to her again.  This one, she didn't try to explain one way or another.  Just let people (mostly the kids) ooh and ah.

Next we went to the "backyard," where they had yet another platform (once again proven to be level with a vortex-owned level), and supposed height changes.  This one had more room for me to get back far enough to get people's heads AND feet in the photos, plus I was able to stand right in front of the center of the platform, instead of off to the side.  I rotated the photos to make the boards at the bottom straight, and drew lines (yellow) between the two people (yes, one of them is Nathan) at both their feet and their heads.  The red lines show the space between the two yellow lines at each person.  If you measure the difference between the two red lines in the first photo and then the second, there IS a slight difference, but is it just attributable to photography differences (though I stayed as still as I could, I didn't have a tripod) or poor line drawing?  Who knows?

These photos, taken from my phone, have a wider angle, but I don't feel like drawing more lines (and I haven't straightened the photos--they're straight out of my phone).  Do you see a difference?

Who knows.

We went into the gift shop (either barely air conditioned or just vigorously fanned, bu it felt good regardless), Nathan bought both a little vial of gold flakes and a knife, I bought a cold drink, and we hit the road again.

We headed to a grocery store, changed into our swimsuits in the restroom, and bought some cold drinks and ice cream.

Nathan is SO WEIRD (how weird is he?) that he doesn't like Drumstick ice cream cones.  He says they're too sweet.  Whose kid is this?

Then we headed to the end of town, where a bridge crosses the Rogue River, and there's a swimming area.  I didn't bring my camera or phone down to the river, so no photos, but it wasn't super picturesque anyway.  Sand, water, and both a road bridge and a train bridge that a few people jumped from while we were there.  Nathan thought that looked like a bad idea.  Good kid--always think that, and I'll be happy.

The water was COLD.  I honestly expected it to be quite a bit warmer.  It wasn't so cold you couldn't get used to it, but just cold enough that it never stopped really tingling your skin.  I played with the idea of swimming with Nathan across the river, just to say we did, but he was fighting the current pretty hard just to get to a log that wasn't even out in the worst of the current.  So I nixed that idea.  He also played in the sand at the shore quite a bit, and I chatted with a woman who had some suggestions on things to see on our route the next day.  It was a pleasant afternoon.

When I got back to the car, I snapped this shot with my phone quickly:

I looked up hotel prices, found a good deal at a Shilo Inn in Medford, so we headed that direction.  The Shilo turned out to be both full and dumpy-looking, so after a few more phone calls, we ended up at the Quality Inn, which was actually more pleasant than I was expecting.  We went to Outback (yes, I'm a vegetarian, but I love their chopped salad and baked potato and bread!)  for dinner, then went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool.  It was a lot warmer than the river.  :-)  The hot tub was even warmer.  Then we went back to the room, I called my stepdad to wish him happy birthday, and chatted with my mom for a bit, then passed out from exhaustion.

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