Subscription postcards: Hot Pot, Pluto, cultural advancement

Postcard collage of surfers paddling in front of Mount Rainier and an American flag, with text reading "the wild in mind"

Message on postcard:
Hello Sacha! I am just back from a camping trip. It was a lot of fun — I walked behind waterfalls — but I think my favorite part was eating dinner back in town after the trip. I went to a place called “Hot Pot”, where there’s a big simmering pot of broth on the table in front of you, and you order food to dunk in the broth and cook. I guess it’s like Chinese fondue. Anyway, it’s good.


Postcard collage of woman churning butter in front of a depiction of Pluto and Charon

Message on postcard:
Hey Kathleen — Did you know that scientists discovered two more moons around Pluto? The SETI Institute is doing a survey to name them. I chose Acheron, the real-life “river of pain” in Greece that’s said to lead to Hades, and Lethe, one of the five rivers of the underworld. Go vote!


Postcard collage of prominently displayed breasts in front of Crater Lake in winter, with text reading "school for cultural advancement"

Reverse side of "school for cultural advancement" postcard

Message on postcard:
Hello Jeff! I posted a scan of the last postcard I sent you on my website. My mom saw it and was alarmed that it appeared to show a crotch shot of a man. I want to clarify and emphasize that this is NOT the case. I am sending you this postcard to restore balance to the universe.

Subscription postcards: Geopolitics and waterfalls

Postcard collage of a gunfight at a card table, with text reading "U.S. attempts to restore peace in Vietnam were rebuffed by the powers in Hanoi"

Message on postcard:
Hello Kevin! It’s Superbowl Sunday, but I’m at Silver Falls State Park here in Oregon, miles from the nearest big screen T.V. I’m not much of a Superbowl fan. Probably this is because I’m not a football fan to begin with. But today I like the Superbowl more than ever, because it is keeping the crowds away on this beautiful (by Oregon standards) winter day. It’s a pretty good deal; I can’t complain.


Postcard collage of dapper gentleman relaxing in front of mountain, with text reading "a superior mountain"

Message on postcard:
Hello Beth! Dateline: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, today. I walked behind some waterfalls. It was super neat. I don’t know how to make a story out of this, because there’s no conflict or resolution, so I’ll just say it again. I walked behind some waterfalls. It was super neat.


Postcard collage of woman swimming with dolphins, surrounded by fall leaves, with text reading "high-speed Internet"

Message on postcard:
Hello Andrew! I’m in the lodge at Silver Falls State Park. There’s an old stuffed mountain lion in one room with a collection of skulls — animal skulls, I should clarify — and there’s a fire in the fireplace. This is an old building constructed by a C.C.C. work camp in the 1930s. Near the fireplace there’s a binder full of xeroxed correspondence from the park’s founder. In one letter he talks about his suspicion that there are caves in the area, because he thinks the ground sounds hollow beneath his feet. Neat guy.


North Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

North Falls at Silver Falls State Park. The trail follows the bottom of the canyon on the left-hand side, passes behind the waterfall, and then ascends to the right-hand canyon rim and follows it back the other way.

Middle North Falls in Silver Creek Falls State Park.

Middle North Falls in Silver Falls State Park.

The trail behind Middle North Falls in Silver Creek Falls State Park.

The trail behind Middle North Falls in Silver Falls State Park.


Subscription postcards: The continuing search for knowledge, no bull

Postcard collage of David Hasselhoff in front of sunset, with text reading "the continuing search for knowledge"

Message on postcard:
Hello Jennifer! Last weekend I went camping on the Oregon coast, and on the way there and back I passed through Astoria. The city gives me the willies. It’s a bunch of steep hills right next to the water. You’re either vulnerable to a tsunami or a landslide. THERE’S NO ESCAPE. There is, however, the Oregon Film Museum, located in the old county jail. I didn’t visit, but I heard that the museum is devoted mostly to Kindergarten Cop.


Postcard collage of man opening door to reveal cowboy riding a bucking bull

Message on postcard:
Hello Carmel! Last weekend I went camping on the Oregon coast. On the way home I stopped in Astoria and had Bosnian food. I had no idea you could get Bosnian food in Astoria, but let me tell you, it was really good.


Postcard collage of spray-painted, stenciled office worker holding a paddle and kicking tennis player, with text reading "no bull"

Message on postcard:
Hello Mollie! Today on a hike at Silver Falls State Park I saw a ton of owl pellets on the trail. Based on my observations, I think owls must feel constantly sick to their stomachs. I am glad I don’t eat mice, and I’m not a big fan of mice. So I guess I’m glad that owls are out there eating mice on my behalf.

Subscription postcards: End of the line for Lewis and Clark. Also, kale.

Postcard collage of people walking on a road above a town, with text that says "experiment"

Message on postcard:
Hey Bridget — Greetings from Fort Stevens State Park, located at the mouth of the Columbia River. January is not exactly peak tourist season on the Oregon coast, so it’s peaceful and quiet here and also a little rainy and cloudy and windy, but it’s pretty in its own way.

This is as far west as Lewis and Clark made it. After hitting the coast they said “fuck it” and turned around and went home and got real jobs. Clark made his fortune on the professional lecture circuit, but Lewis had a career flame-out and disappeared from the public eye for a while. He resurfaced a few years later in New Orleans, busking in the French Quarter. He became America’s first underground folk-rock superstar, but died of an opium overdose at age twenty-seven after releasing just three wax cylinder recordings on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

So I reckon I should turn around and head home and figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life.


Postcard collage of dog head in front of badlands with text reading "a question of scale"

Message on postcard:
Hello Sharon! Do you know what makes winter camping on the Oregon coast tolerable? KALE SOUP. It takes a rainy, windy excursion from soggy to spectacular in just one spoonful. Maybe after reading this you will want some kale soup, too. If so, here is my recipe.

  1. A bunch of kale.
  2. Other soup ingredients, e.g. carrots, beans, broth.
  3. Heat

I hope you enjoy it!


Postcard collage of ballerina in front of badlands, with text reading "summer season"

Message on postcard:
Hello Evgenyia! I’m sitting in my van at the mouth of the Columbia River, looking across what is kind of a huge bay thing at some rain-obscured green-gray hills in Washington State. There’s a parking lot next to the beach and there are about two cars here at any given time. Someone will drive up, get out, get back into their car, turn around, and drive away. Then the process repeats itself. I’m listening to the wind and the rain and the surf and enjoying the view through my windshield, staying dry.

Subscription postcards: Horses, pigs, chicken heads

Postcard collage of horses in front of Crater Lake

Message on postcard:
Hello Elizabeth! Did you know that pioneers crossed the country on horses over a hundred years ago? It took months and months for them to cross the country. Today you can fly across the country on a jet in six hours. A horse can gallop at 30 miles per hour, but a jet can fly at six hundred miles per hour. Jets are cool!



Postcard collage of skeletal bird flying in front of Mount Hood

Message on postcard:
Hey Steve — Greetings from Fort Stevens State Park. I’m here at the mouth of the Columbia River, on the Oregon coast. Fort Stevens was originally built to defend against British attack during a dispute called the Pig War. The Wikipedia article on the subject says it was a bloodless dispute, but it was triggered by the shooting of a pig, which I have to imagine was pretty gruesome. I guess they mean human blood when they talk about bloodless conflicts. As I am sure you can understand, I am fine with sending pigs into war to die in lieu of men.


Postcard collage of cellist in front of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, with text "No Chicken Heads, Feet or Intestines"

Message on postcard:
Hey Erin — Greetings from the Oregon coast. I’m at Fort Stevens State Park, near the wreck of the Peter Iredale. It’s an old steel-hulled boat that ran aground in 1906. Most of the wreck was cut up for scrap, but for some reason the bow was left intact. They say it’s good luck to kiss it at low tide, but so far my luck is unchanged and my mouth tastes like salt water, rust, and barnacles.

The wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park

Here is what one hundred and six years of Oregon weather will do to a boat.

Postcard: The morning dispatch

Collage postcard. Block of text over a harbor. Text: "I pulled out my camera, and with it, a dilemma. Was I really going to film this? "Emeka, you just vomited up your bladder. How awful do you feel?"

Message on postcard:

Flink –

It was sunny today in Portland. On my run this morning I saw a bearded twenty-something standing on a corner, facing the sun with outstretched arms and closed eyes. He had an iPhone in one hand, a paper coffee cup in the other, and was chanting something. A garbage truck was rumbling behind him in an asphalt parking lot. Things are pretty much normal here.


PS: Also I saw a kid ride into school on a unicycle.