Subscription postcards: Toponyms, thimbleberries, and canine trail stewardship

A biplane flies over crater lake. Beneath it is the phrase "The Residue of Memory".

Message on postcard:
Hi Sacha — My girlfriend Mandy and I are visiting the coast this weekend. Today we’re in Pacific City, Oregon. There’s a big rock in the ocean called Haystack Rock. It’s confusing, because there’s a second, identically named offshore rock a little ways north from here. I’ve heard far-out hypotheses that all life is a gigantic computer simulation. If so, whoever programmed it failed to allocate enough namespace for geological features.

Haystack Rock, near Pacific City, seen from the beach.

Haystack Rock, near Pacific City, seen from the beach.

Another view of Haystack Rock.

Another view of Haystack Rock.


 

A rugged cowboy enjoys delicious thimbleberries.

Message on postcard:
Evgeniya — Greetings from the aptly named Beachside State Park here on the Oregon coast. This morning I found a sealed glass jar that looks like it floated over from Japan. I took it with me; it’s weird and strange to think about how it got here.

A sealed jar that I found on the beach.

I found this on the beach.


 

Postcard collage of a woman standing near an old station wagon, in front of cultivated fields, captioned with the words "get married".

Message on postcard:
Hey Andrew — Today I visited Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast. My girlfriend Mandy was very excited to see that there is a trail named “Amanda’s Trail”. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that the sign is no longer accurate. My dog Skillet peed there, which makes it technically his now.

Subscription postcards: Chocolate outrage, confusion in Hebo, and Gangnam’s high-water mark

Postcard collage of Bill Clinton in the South Dakota Badlands, with the text "mature adult" next to his head.

Message on postcard:
Hey Steve —Today I saw a glucose-based, nutritional energy gel for sale. The name of the product was “Chocolate Outrage”. I can’t say for sure, but I think it was named by a white guy.

Packages of a product called "chocolate outrage".

Chocolate-flavored, honkey-christened.


 

Postcard collage of four differently colored cobs of corn in the South Dakota Badlands, captioned with the phrase "Harness the Transformative Power".

Message on postcard:
Mollie — Greetings from Mount Hebo, near the Oregon coast! I’m camping here with my girlfriend Mandy. It’s a little cold out, and there are a few patchy remnants of snow on the ground. Skunk cabbage is blooming in a nearby stream and along the lake. It is very peaceful, especially compared to the bait and tackle shop a couple miles away in downtown Hebo. It is your one-stop shop for fishing gear and hateful, self-pitying screeds printed from the Internet and misattributed to Bill Cosby.


 

Postcard collage of a happy, mustachioed man standing in front of his shiny old car. Behind him is a peaceful sunset on a Washington beach.

Message on postcard:
Bridget — I am at a coffee shop in Pacific City, Oregon. There is a chalkboard here, upon which a person has written “Gangnam Style! Whoop whoop! Don’t erase.” The entire declaration contains twenty additional exclamation points not included here. Years from now I think that historians will recognize this chalkboard as the official high-water mark for worldwide interest in “Gangnam Style”.

Gangnam-awareness chalkboard in Pacific City, Oregon.

I’m used to seeing the words “don’t erase” next to complicated equations on physics department chalkboards. But this is important, too.

Subscription postcards: Exploding craters, an important message from Hubert Humphrey, and a bunch of chimps

Postcard collage: Diagram of lava exploding, with the text "How Craters Were Formed: Bubble Theory". In the background is Crater Lake.

Message on postcard:
Sacha — I’m here at the Tillamook Cheese factory in Tillamook, Oregon, where they have a kiosk that allows you to send “Cheese Mail”, a cheese-themed video postcard that will be warmly received by friends, family, and, if the amphetaminic Cheese Mail marketing is to believed, your coworkers. Three Cheese Mails cost just one dollar, so of course I was very excited to send out about fifteen hundred. Unfortunately, the kiosk ate my dollar and I left dejected.


Postcard collage: A drawing of Hubert Humphrey in front of a green wooden building plastered in quilts, with a word bubble saying "Hello Clear Skin"

Message on postcard:
Evgeniya — Gift shops are weird. I visited the Tillamook Cheese factory today and their gift shop only had one good postcard of the factory. But they did have copies of the books Life in the Goat Lane and How to Live with Teenagers. The cover of the latter book featured a crazed-looking teenager about to run over an old lady with his car. I’m not sure what it had to do with cheese or why the teen’s heart was filled with such malice.

This seems less like advice and more like a warning.

This seems less like advice and more like a warning.

It's also the title of a little known B-side by the Eagles.

It’s also the title of a little known B-side by the Eagles.


Postcard collage: A group of chimps in front of Crater Lake.

Message on postcard:
Elizabeth — Here is a picture of chimps using tools to get food. They stick twigs into dirt that’s full of bugs. Then they eat the bugs that are on the twig. People used to think that only humans use tools. Today we know that other primates (like chimps), birds, elephants, and even some insects can use simple tools.

Subscription postcards: Genius dog and a pizza paradigm shift

Postcard collage: A dog stands in front of a giant hand with mathematical equations written on it. Text reads "The Need to Succeed".

Message on postcard:
Jennifer — I hiked out to the end of Cape Lookout this morning. Cape Lookout is a promontory located in a state park which bears its name. Eponymous geological features are usually pretty good, and this one was no exception. To the north you could see the Netarts Spit, which I’d hiked yesterday, and miles of coastline were visible in both directions. The trail winds along above tall cliffs, grassy steeps, and a rocky cove. I took the dogs with me. They got really close to the ledges and it made me nervous. I told them to step back and that they have too much to live for. If humans were like dogs, we could save hundreds of lives by placing dog treats near emergency suicide hotline phones.

My dog Kaida eating grass at Cape Lookout.

Kaida, high above the Pacific and oblivious to all danger, browses on vegetation along the Cape Lookout trail.


Postcard collage: A horned mammal with prominent rear end kicks with its rear legs. The text "circles are the new slice" is overlaid above a cross-section of a ball bearing mechanism.

Message on postcard:
Erin — Last weekend, while hiking at Cape Lookout, I searched for a plaque in memory of a 1943 plane crash, but I couldn’t find it. The guidebooks didn’t say much about it, so I did a little research to learn more. A B-17 flying through coastal fog crashed into the cliff, just fifty feet or so from clearing the promontory. There was one survivor, who was thrown from the plane into a tree, hanging by his bootlaces and soaked in aviation fuel while a fire burned nearby. He went on to become an appliance salesman. It makes me think about all the ordinary people you see in the course of an ordinary day, and what kind of stories they might be carrying with them.

Learn more here.


Postcard collage: A bison stands in front of a cornfield, with text that says "PIZZA SLIDERS"

Message on postcard:
Mollie — Dateline: Tillamook Cheese factory! After camping at Cape Lookout, I’m here touring the Tillamook Cheese factory. They have big windows where you can look down at the factory floor. Blocks of cheese the size of small monuments zoom around single-file on a production line, where they’re cut into brick-sized units and slipped into colorful packaging. One of the workers would happily wave at anyone watching him. Another worker would only reluctantly return my wave. I think he wondered why a full-grown man touring a cheese factory would wave at him. I have no good answer and concede his point.

A worker at the Tillamook cheese factory acknowledges my presence.

A worker at the Tillamook cheese factory acknowledges my presence.

Subscription postcards: Bats, birds, and dogs that love math

Postcard collage: A bat flying in front of Crater Lake at sunset, with the text "Amazing Technicolor Brain"

Message on postcard:
Kevin — Today I was walking along the beach and I found a really long, rubbery plant with an air-filled bladder at one end. What is this thing? Is it kelp? I don’t think it’s kelp. I don’t know very much about ocean plant life, but I know this thing is interesting and disgusting. I think the whole plant is hollow. It’s like a hollow, rubbery rope. When the mutant apocalypse hits we’ll rename things after their new, post-industrial uses. These weird sea plants will one day be known as quick-rot hoses. But I want to know what we call them today.

My dog Skillet and a weird sea plant.

Skillet sits next to a quick-rot hose on Netarts Spit while staring at the ocean.


Postcard collage: A bird of prey with outstretched wings is positioned behind an "Iron Range" sign from Minnesota. A word balloon from the bird says "Come in".

Message on postcard:
Beth — Cape Lookout State Park is a popular spot for paragliders. Today I saw about ten of them flying around above the beach. They tend not to venture too far from shore. I’m guessing that one paraglider lost at sea was enough to teach everyone else a valuable lesson. People who can fall out of the sky don’t like learning the hard way.


Postcard collage: Tourists appear to lean to the side in a wooden shack called the "Gravity House". Text says "'Publish or perish' has become an axiom affecting the destinies of many scientists."

Message on postcard:
Hey Kathleen — Today I ate marionberry pie for breakfast. It’s my new favorite thing to do while camping. I didn’t know the difference between a marionberry and a blackberry, so I had to look it up. Turns out that the marionberry is a specific blackberry cultivar developed by the USDA at Oregon State University. In 2009 Oregon was going to name the marionberry our official state berry, but a farmer who grew a different cultivar objected and the issue was dropped.

The fracas generated a great headline: “Push to name a state berry starts rhubarb”. The story had a fantastic quote from Marion County’s state legislator: “I am not going to bat over internal disputes in the berry community.”

Learn more: http://tinyurl.com/berry-fracas

Subscription postcards: Impact theory, bird-emblazoned mountain scenery, and corrugated cephaloboxes

Postcard collage: Diagram of meteorite impacting moon to create a crater. Beneath it is a sprinting pig. Behind it are salt flats. The text says "IMPACT THEORY"

Message on postcard:
Sharon — Greetings from Cape Lookout State Park! I remember reading John Muir in my early twenties, reading his description of unbroken old-growth forests that used to carpet the Pacific Northwest … these days there’s not much of it left. Here at Cape Lookout all the trees seem to be second growth. But every once in a while you’ll see a massive old stump that’s about the size of a whale head. I’m camped next to one right now. It’s dwarfing my van.

Vanagon and tree stump.

My van parked in front of a gigantic, old-growth tree stump at sunset. The tree stump looks like a smokestack.


Postcard collage: Birds and reeds in front of a mountain landscape. The bottom of the postcard says "UTAH".

Message on postcard:
Carmel — Today I went for a hike along the Netarts Spit, a thin strip of land bordered by Netarts Bay on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The spit has an ocean beach and a long and tiny hill dotted with dead and dying trees. It also has a grass-covered mud flat that isn’t so much water-saturated dirt as it is earth-laden water. It’s pretty. I like it.


Postcard collage: A boy with a box on his head stands in front of an old-style race car on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Message on postcard:
Bridget — About a week ago I visited Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon Coast. In the afternoon, before the sun went down, I walked a couple miles up the beach. Debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami is beginning to wash ashore. The best piece of debris I found was a big blue bucket. It reminded me of a bucket-related Meat Puppets song that I later listened to and enjoyed. This is the first and only positive outcome from the tsunami.

Below: The above-mentioned Meat Puppets song.

Tsunami debris sign at the Cape Lookout campground recycling area.

Tsunami debris sign at Cape Lookout campground.