Just Another Monday Evening

25 07 2017

Mondays get such a bad rap.

Please don’t do that in public…

Every once in a while, Monday tries to redeem itself. Today began as most of my other summer Mondays began: rather insignificantly. I slept in a bit, had a bowl of cereal, took the mutts for a stroll. But then my Monday stopped its ordinary trajectory as I packed a small suitcase and a bag for Simba, loaded the new RAV, and headed south. J had an overnight trip for work, so I hit the road for Bend.

I made it to Casa de Davis, home to my friends MAsh who happen to be traipsing around Peru for the summer. I got Simba settled in and made my way across the west side of town to a little restaurant patio in the Northwest Crossing neighborhood. Several of my gal pals gathered with me for awesome food, drinks, and catching up.

friends for dinner, Washington Dining and Cocktails, Bend OR

You’re right, Monday, these ladies DO make everything better!!

We all used to work together for a tech company in downtown Bend but have since found other pursuits. Strangely enough, the CEO of our previous company was sitting at the table right next to us! He very kindly sent us a round and stopped by our table to say hello. I haven’t lived in Bend for 6 some-odd years and I still bump into old acquaintances every time I visit!

Time with these 3 awesome women would have been enough for me to call Monday my favorite day. Bend, however, had more in store for me. It had apparently teamed up with Monday to really knock my socks off. They really succeeded…

Back at MAsh’s house, I decided to take Simba for a nice long walk. Being in the PNW, I still had daylight despite the hour approaching 9. We walked through the neighborhood and down to the Old Mill District. Trying to keep Simba out of trouble, I didn’t notice the impressive show in the sky right away. I actually noticed the people first – everyone had turned towards the setting sun and everyone was taking pictures. Everyone. Children, dog walkers, cyclists, staff from the restaurants – EVERYONE. I finally realized why.

central Oregon summer sunset Bend OR

Yep, ok, I’ll stop and look, too.

The scene was quite incredible. The fiery colors in the sky were breathtaking, framed by the Three Sisters mountains and reflected in the waters of the Deschutes River. Ducks paddled and dove in the river, though there was an interesting hush over everything. The typical bustle and noise of the Old Mill was still for a moment while we all took in the amazing sight.

sunset over Old Mill, Bend OR

Bend, I really don’t need that much convincing to want to come back….

Continuing on our way, Simba and I finished our walk, circling by way of the Colorado bridge and admiring the changes since our last visit. This tunnel, for instance, didn’t exist when this area was my old haunt:

tunnel under the Colorado bridge, Bend OR

So many colors! (Yes, this is my favorite shirt…)

For such a quick trip, I’m heading home in a reflective, grateful state of mind. Grateful for the amazing people I have in my life, grateful for living in such a cool place, grateful for the ability to travel around, grateful for the mutt snoring on the floor next to me that accompanies me on these adventures.

Touche, Monday – I hereby declare you my favorite.

Let me just leave you with a picture of a snoring Simba. 😀

Boy, o boy, I wonder what adventures await us on Tuesday!

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Houses, Home, and Culdesacs

4 08 2016

It’s been over a year since that day J and I crammed some of my belongings into his truck and I moved out of our house. Not for lover’s quarrel but for higher education. After six months in a house with several very nice dudes, my friend and classmate N offered me a room at her house.

Thus began the saga of Big K, Little K, and Momma N. Over the last 9 months, we formed a weird little family, and it was amazing. Just having someone to talk to that was going through the same things made the grind easier to bear. We were able to rant about our days, laugh at the ridiculousness, and celebrate our victories. Couch parties and copious amounts of tea and editing each other’s papers long into the night – that’s what got me through grad school.

roomies

Well, that and a fiesty little red-head, 5 years old and full of sugar and sass. Sometimes, she would creep into my room to climb into bed with me, rooting around in my pillows until she found my old teddy. She would join me on walks, and shared my afternoon snacks, and drew me beautiful pictures. I know she hated how much we were always on our computers, but she did a great job of giving us study breaks. As an extra bonus, she helped me catch up on all my Disney movies!

IMG_3955

Little K: sugar and spice and everything nice

Last Friday, I had to drive away from my new little family. They said their farewells even before J showed up with his truck. I’d been so excited to finally get to move back in with J that the shock of my sorrow took me by surprise. I had been focusing on wedding plans and my summer job and pretending to prepare for the coming school year. It conveniently slipped my mind that moving back to J’s house meant leaving my girls behind.

I sobbed.

It’s a funny thing, the concept of “home”. I’ve lived in lots of houses, in different states, with different people. And for the last 5 years, J has been my home. But I also found a home with these two, and I felt a little less orphaned thanks to them. We had community in our little culdesac, where neighborhood kids knocked on the door to sell raffle tickets for little league and ask if Little K could come play. I discovered a sense of being “neighborly” reminiscent of the ’50s. I had my local haunts and my favorite parking spot at the grocery store, and a sense of knowing my way around in our little section of town. There’s a sense of belonging that comes along with all this.

 

I’ve now been at J’s house for a week. We’re still playing tetris with our belongings, trying to make everything fit, but it’s coming together. Just yesterday, I had a small epiphany that made me feel much better: I have a home and community here, too.

J is still my home, and hopefully always will be. It’s also a wonderful feeling to live in just one place again, instead of two. I love getting to wake up to J’s handsome face each morning, and tucking Simba into bed each night. We’re all blissfully back under one roof. And our little street has a nice, friendly feel, similar to my former culdesac. The houses are close together, and everyone seems to be outside at some point, offering a wave and hello. Simba has become acquainted with the other mutts of the street, and our neighbor we share a driveway with asked me yesterday if I could haul her trash can up today after it was emptied, so it wouldn’t blow away. There’s all sorts of neighborly-ness going on.

My heart still aches for my girls, but I do get to see Momma N this weekend. I didn’t move across the country, I’m just an hour away – we’ll have lunch next week when I’m in the ‘Couve for other things. Plus: SnapChat. Boom.

So despite still struggling with our housing situation, and anxiously awaiting the day we’ll have a place to call our own, I don’t lack for a home or a community. That makes me feel better, and gives me that sense of belonging I’ve craved. I no longer have a suitcase on standby for the weekend, and I feel much less nomadic. We live in a super rad town that I’m excited to get to know better. My hard-won friends are still just down the river, and in 36 days, J and I get to say I Do.

Life goes on. Thankfully, I have two awesome ladies that I got to share it with for a little while. Grad school would have been a very different experience were it not for them, and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to adopt them for a little while.





#tbt to Texas

9 04 2015

Since I’m super “hip” and “down with it”, I’m posting a hashtag today: #tbt. Hopefully this will convince you of my “hip-ness” and increase my “street cred”. (Is it working?!)

J and I took a nice trip down to Texas a few weeks back for lots of “throw back” – tons of trekking up and down memory lane!!

J has never been to Austin, so we jumped at the chance for a reunion with my college buddies. We took off work for a full week and I began mapping our course across the massive state. The goal: see as many friends and family as humanly possible.

Stop 1: Wichita Falls, to see my family. My mother was not pleased that I only gave her a day and a half, but she did alright. My big Broski drove down from Kansas with my insanely fabulous niece (she obviously inherited her auntie’s brilliance), my middle sister B took off work (oh yo, oh yo!), and my Daddy waxed his mustache – party time!

Though our visit was super short, we made the most of it. I spent every second with my little Hopey, hugged my Momma every time she was within reach, snuggled my niece as much as an 18-month-old will allow, and punched my brother every time he walked by. A perfect day and a half. Even both grandparents made an appearance for some pulled pork, super tight hugs, and catching up.

big sister little sisiter, dallas tx

Cruising around with my little Hope-ster!

I could write a whole post on Hope alone. She crawled into my covers each morning to snuggle, did some impressive living room yoga with me, showed me her wicked dance moves to “Let It Go”, and generally refused to be more than a foot away from me at all times.

Then there was Boop, my niece. She’s quiet and intense, watching everything with her wide-eyed, innocent intelligence. Then she’d jump in to play or dance or chase the bubbles and we would finally be rewarded with her delightful giggles.

My little mop-head, watching the family madness, waiting for her chance to jump in the middle of it all…

After soaking up the family time like a parched sponge, it was time to move on to Stop 2: Dallas. One of my closest BFF’s from college, Little L, was putting us up for the night and road-tripping with us to Austin for the big reunion. We squeezed in a visit to my first college friend and old roomie, who introduced us to her 2-week-old bebe. Much has changed since our shenanigans in the dorms freshman year! I almost wept at the sight of her beautiful family. But AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!

And off to Austin we went! My sweet bestie, KDub (yes, everyone in this post is a bestie), now lives in North Austin and gives the best hugs – how I missed all these faces! We ladies shut the boys out in the living room, cranked up the throw-back jams, and set up shop getting ready for our big night out on the town. Oh, such memories – how many times have we done this together over the years? Once upon a time, this was our weekend routine! When did I learn to get ready on my own, without their expert assistance and advice?!

Finally gorgeous, we caught the monorail downtown and had our first big-city experience with Uber to get to the restaurant where we were meeting the gang for dinner. We were first, and as folks started trickling in, my blood pressure steadily climbed. Friends I hadn’t seen for YEARS walked in that door. Pals that were once my friend-family, that saw me through my college years, that transitioned me into adulthood – they were suddenly all there again. By some miracle, I managed to smile my biggest smile, instead of cry like a baby in a corner.

How time has changed us! Marriages and babies and careers had somehow happened. We’re all strangely older, though our 23-year-old selves came out to play with us all back together, like no time at all has passed. It was simply incredible having all these people in one room together, laughing, celebrating, reuniting.

friends reunited, Austin TX

My life would be all the better if I saw more of these amazing people – now married AND expecting!

besties reunited, tearing up sxsw, austin tx

Two of my best friends in the whole world. ❤

And the group is now complete! A window to my early 20’s…

After dinner, we headed downtown. (Crazy.) South By Southwest (SXSW), the mega music, film and tech fest, was still raging, so people were EVERYWHERE. We didn’t care – MUST.DANCE.NOW. We found the first club with no cover and the booty-shaking began! (Aw, just like old times again!)

girlfriends reunited, SXSW 2015 austin tx

Added Ash to the mix during a dance break, but photo-bombed by S (and B’s eyebrow) ….

group reunited at SXSW 2015, austin tx

More of the group, this time getting photo-bombed by ME!!

After such a great night with such great people, it seemed like the trip should be over, time to pack it up and go back home to real life.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

The trip, in fact, was only half over! More friends need to be seen! We recovered the next day with amazing breakfast by KDub, then hopped in the car with MAsh to continue south. MDawg took us through San Marcos, home of Texas State University, where I spent some of the best years of my life. We took J on a little trip down (my) memory lane, gasping at the massive changes, sighing at the sights that remained the same. Then we roamed back through the hill country to Canyon Lake, to Ash’s mom’s house, where we relaxed the day away. Towards evening, we loaded back in the car, destined for the awesome historic town of Gruene!

For 4 and a half years now, I’ve done my best to convince J that Texas can be quite beautiful, charming, even incredible at times. This trip finally proved me right. The bluebonnets carpeted the roadsides this far south, and the recent rains had turned the fields a lush emerald. We drove the back way, along the Guadalupe River, past limestone cliffs and tumbling hills and a zillion tube rentals and campgrounds. It’s easy to imagine the zoo this place turns into during the summer! Even J was impressed.

Once we arrived, I felt like a proud mamma, showing off her babies to a stranger. Gruene was one of my favorite places to go when I lived in this neck of the woods – the creaky wooden sidewalks, the historic buildings full of gimmicky wares, the best food around served in the remarkable grist mill renovated into a restaurant – and Grune Hall. The oldest dance hall in the state of Texas. All the greats have played on that stage, from Willy Nelson to Merle Haggard to Lyle Lovett to The King, GEORGE STRAIT! I wish I could have snuggled up to J for a twirl around the uneven dance floor, but not this night. We whisked next door to the Grist Mill instead, meeting the fabulous M again and my dears SB and G.

The last stop on our grand journey was east of San Antonio: SB and G’s house. (I like it to call it The Estate.) We stayed up that night as late as we possibly could, trying to catch up on the months gone by since our last visit. (Despite the fact that SB and I chat regularly…) The next day, we had a relaxing morning in their amazing house with their adorable pups, before finally setting out to hike the hill country. Mud, sweat, sunburn, and lunch later, we plopped back down in their living room to recover.

government-canyons san antonio tx

My crew up ahead in the lovely oaks and aromatic mountain laurels. I was busy getting sun burnt.

* * * * * *

For the last 5 1/2 years, I’ve been working on making the PNW my home. It’s not hard – the mountains, the rivers, the coast, the changing seasons: all sing to me and made me fall in love long ago. Even my mother has come to terms with the fact that I will likely never move back to my birth state of Texas. (Ok, she pretends to have come to terms with it…)

Strangely, most folks from Texas do not understand this and will fight to the death trying to prove that Texas is the GREATEST state ever in the whole entire world and I am obviously completely insane and utterly stupid to not only leave, but not want to come back. Think I’m exaggerating? Then you aren’t from Texas.

And yet, I return to the great country state as often as possible. Why? Roots. Family. Memories. Bar-b-que. Friends that became family.

I wish I could find the words to relay how important these folks were to me, and the depth of my gratitude for getting to spend even one evening with them again. It was like living in a #tbt post but better.

Now I’m all the more motivated to visit them all again!!

😀





I Lost My Heart In Oregon

21 02 2015

Ah, Halmark Day… the most manufactured holiday of all. A celebration, supposedly, of love that has turned into yet another marketing campaign. BUY BUY BUY! Ugh.

Thankfully, J and I are in agreement about this, so we ignored the holiday as usual and took a little mini-vacay down to Bend for some much-needed quality time with friends. And by ignoring all the V-day mumbo-jumbo, we had a weekend full of love and friendship and happiness. Best.Ever.

Friday night was Girls’ Night for me – a movie and margaritas with some of my favorite ladies. My face hurt from so much laughing, and my soul felt recharged from the great energy of such amazing woman. Girl power!

Then Saturday was our double-date with MAsh and the great outdoors. I have to admit I’m pretty sad about the lack of snow and winter, but the Central Oregon sunshine is tough to beat. We drove up to the trail-head for Black Butte and started climbing. It didn’t take long for me to fall behind the group – the views were worth slowing down for!

3 Sisters from Black Butte, Sisters OR

Broken Top and the 3 Sisters, sun tanning in February

Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon

From this side, we see Mt Jefferson, then Mt Hood, and if you squint you might see Mt Adams teeny tiny to the right of Hood!! I CAN SEE ALL THE WAY TO WASHINGTON!

We took a rest and a snack break once we reached the top, and of course we took more pictures….

silly on Black Butte, Sisters OR

J, always improvising, testing out his new selfie stick….er, selfie log??

friends on Black Butte, Sisters OR

WE’RE JUST SO EXCITED TO BE HERE!!!!

After our hike, we roamed around Bend on foot. The Old Mill District was all a-buzz with the craziness of WinterFest (despite the lack of winter…) and our stop at Crux Brewery found quite a party. We drifted back to MAsh’s house for dinner and board games, and fell asleep that night with dreams of mountains and sun beams dancing in our heads.

We started off our Sunday the best way possible: awesome yoga class followed by the sauna to really get those muscles relaxed. Then, because this is us we’re talking about, we undid all that wonderful work on our muscles, and went for another hike. This time, we headed down a river canyon, following the Deschutes River to Steelhead Falls.

hiking along the Descutes River, Steelhead Falls OR

See the tiny little hikers? That’s us!

Living in the Columbia Gorge, we’ve seen our fair share of falls. Doesn’t matter – Steelhead is an impressive beast! Not super tall, but so much water!

Steelhead Falls, Terrebone OR

Steelhead Falls

Steelhead Falls, central oregon

Waterfalls (and each other) make us happy

Gorgeous day with incredible friends, my happy mutt, and my dashing beau. This hike was one of the very first hikes J and I did together when we were first dating. We hiked by this tree and my memory flashed – I remembered how muddy the trail was, how warm the sun felt, and that tree…the tree whose branches provided shade while J kissed me like a girl ought to be kissed.

I’m not a fan of this over-commercialized farce of a holiday, but I am a fan of love. All love, all forms of love, all faces of love. And on this day after Valentines, enjoying the outdoors with my buddies, I basked in the love around me. I lost my heart up here in the Pacific Northwest – gave it away gladly. I gave it to the mountains, to the forests, to the sunsets, to the rivers, to the waterfalls, to the coastline, to the lifestyle. By some stroke of luck, I found a man to entrust with my heart, and then a mutt who stole the last few bits.

Good thing hearts are such unique organs – we can keep giving of them and also filling them, yet we never run out, we’re never too full. Sharing our hearts just seem to make them bigger, and even though they can be broken, add more love and they will always mend.  The pieces I’ve left elsewhere are in good hands, and I have plenty more for the people and places I’ve yet to fall in love with.

man and dog at Steelhead Falls OR

What a lucky gal I am ❤

Valentines Day doesn’t hold much meaning for me, but, cheesy as it sounds, I’m head over heels for love. My goal is to acknowledge and appreciate the love in my life every single day.

Also, J’s new nickname is JBoo…

😀

top of Black Butte, Sisters OR

Feel the love, yall!

 





A 30-year-old Pirate

7 12 2014

Big news, people! I have officially survived my twenties! That’s right, J can no longer say he’s dating a twenty-something. I am the big three-zero, all grown-up and adult and … stuff.

To celebrate, J and I headed to the coast for a weekend away with 6 of my fabulous friends from Bend. We all left blizzard-ish conditions for a super sunny, beautiful couple of days. We rented a house and had the most glorious of times.

Now, you might be thinking you know what a birthday bash for a 30-year-old would look like. Probably a nice selection of wines and a lovely cheese sampler while discussing the local scandal at the ski hill and the latest election results. Then maybe a calm game of gin rummy while we place bets on who’ll be next to announce their pregnancy. (Ok, I have no idea what other 30-year-olds do for their birthdays….)

That’s definitely not what we did. We had a PIRATE PARTY!  My fab friends came to dinner in full costume to enjoy a feast complete with grog and a Code to solve a murder mystery. One pal even DIED. J did an amazing job with decorations and scripts and assigning characters, and the pirate party we had would rival any 5-year-old’s out there! (I even had a sword!)

We had pirates and wenches and commodores and love triangles and the dramatic death of Merciless Morgan. Then we had back-stabbing and sleuthing and whispering in the corners until finally the truth came out. Sealegs Sam (aka J!) was the MURDERER!! (I did not guess correctly – apparently I’m as love-blind and clueless as my character, Breathless Betty!)

It was insane fun and just reminded me (for the gazillionth time) that my friends are beyond awesome.

pirate murder mystery party, manzanita OR

ARG ye mateys!

We also played ultimate frisbee on the beach, collected sand dollars, played lots of games, and laughed and laughed and laughed. Oh, and there was cake!

blowing out birthday candles, manzanita OR

A little cake to celebrate…make a wish!

Pretty awesome way to celebrate 3 decades of life with some of my very favorite people. I also received some extremely awesome bday gifts that really started my day off in the best way possible. Nikki got me a beautiful set of earrings and a set of super fun travel cards. Cass worked her voodoo magic and made me lotion, soaking salts, and a sugar scrub with her essential oils that do amazing things for me (and smell really awesome, too). Ash put together a scrapbook of letters and pictures from friends and family that had me in tears – it’s amazing the people she managed to reach in order to get the letters; I was so deeply touched.  And that’s all on top of traveling all the way to the coast to celebrate with me! Life is so sweet when surrounded by such amazing folks. 🙂

Oh, and then there was J’s gift. We don’t do much in terms of gifts for each other – we prefer experiences to mark occasions. And two years ago, he managed to give me a cake while we were deep in the Amazon rainforest – that’s a tough birthday experience to top! But the man is creative and knows me so well, and he gave me an unforgettable way to ring in year #30.

We already had our plans in place to go to California for Thanksgiving, and he gave me the gift of skydiving at Perris Field while we there.

S.K.Y.D.I.V.I.N.G

I’ve always wanted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane (on purpose!) and now I would finally get to!! Talk about the adventure of a lifetime! He even found a set of those little toy parachute people as a way to give me his gift. I almost fell off the couch when I realized what it was!

(I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s still trying to secretly, nonchalantly get rid of me without anyone noticing…. I survived the death-trip over the mountains without falling off a cliff, and the trip to the jungle without getting eaten, and the skiing without breaking my neck, and the climb to the top of Mt Adams without stabbing myself with the ice axe. Hm. He either loves me and loves taking me on incredible adventures, or he’s trying to get rid of me and make it look like an accident. I mean, this is the end of his bragging rights for dating a twenty-something, remember?!)

So. Awesome birthday. We had an incredible time over Thanksgiving in California, and, as you probably guessed, I did survive my jump.

But that’s for next time.

😀

Oregon coast, Manzanita

 





But the Best Ships, Are Friendships…

20 03 2014

A good friend from college had this toast that she liked to give every time our group of friends got together: There are wooden ships, and metal ships, and ships that sail the sea…but the best ships are friendships, and friends we’ll always be!

Our group is scattered all over the country now, and we see each other rarely. But that silly toast stays with me, reminding me that there are all these friends that are still my friends, no matter where we geographically land.

Unfortunately, none of those pals live here, where I live. MAsh is closest, down in Oregon. Most are far off in Texas. And lately, I’ve felt the loneliness as I struggle to find new acquaintances in our super small town, with just Simba, my dog, for company most days. J is around but even my time with him has become a bit rare.

Something always happens to keep me afloat, of course – a ship comes to save me before I can drown. This time is was S (we’ll call him Sir) and his lovely lady G visiting all the way from San Antonio, Texas. Sir and I go way back, and he’s been one of my closest friends throughout the years. We were fishing buddies and drinking buddies, buddies for the good and bad. He helped me move all over the place, including my big move to the PNW, and he’s been the only person to visit me almost every state I’ve lived in (not counting family – Momma has him beat!). He’s been an all-around great friend for as long as I’ve known him.

So when he and G met me for lunch on Friday, here for the whole weekend, I could barely keep myself from running full speed up the sidewalk to tackle him. I jumped in for a bear hug, and tried not to knock G to the ground when it was her turn. FINALLY!! VISITORS!!

The weekend was a blur of good times, laughing until we couldn’t breathe, reminiscing, and catching up. MAsh met us up on Mt Hood for a day of skiing on Saturday, and we skiied until we all collapsed (literally). Then MAsh joined us at my house afterward and stayed the night – Ash is friends with Sir from way back, too. We spent the evening playing Settlers of Catan, dipping into the liquor cabinet, and just having a wildly awesome time. It was a big bummer to see MAsh go Sunday morning.

We decided to explore the Gorge on Sunday and went hiking east of Hood River on the historic Columbia River Highway. J came along and shared his vast knowledge with us, telling us about the wildflowers and lichens and fire ecology and local history. He’s a great tour guide. And we got to know G better, sharing stories and squeezing in that normal chit-chat conversation that reveals a person. (She’s such a gem.)

Then Monday, I finally got to show my pals what I had most hoped to show them – our WATERFALLS! Living in such awesome waterfall country makes a Tour de Falling Water a simple task, but this weekend was special. We had been getting tons of rain, then had a big snowfall (the last one I told you about), *then* we got tons more rain on top of the snow. All the rivers were swollen out of their banks….and the waterfalls were RAGING! So off we went, west through the gorge, on the path to see as many waterfalls in one day as possible.

We did an excellent job – saw so many I lost count – and barely left the highway! We hit another section of the historic highway and didn’t go far before we heard the thunder of Horsetail Falls – stop number 1! Before we even got out of the car, I heard the gasps of amazement, the muttered “holy shit!”s and the dropping of jaws. I’ve seen the falls before, but this was truly remarkable – and just the first one! By the time we reached Multnomah Falls (the famous falls near Portland), we were no longer able to fully shut our jaws. The famous bridge is now closed due to damage from a falling rock, so we couldn’t go very far, but wowzers. Just unbelievable.

raging Multnomah Falls. Portland OR

One tier of Multnomah

Multnomah Falls Oregon, Columbia Gorge

The all-of-it view of Multnomah. Whoa.

Even the historic lodge/giftshop at Multnomah was impressive. We continued on, stopping for every waterfall we came to, and decided to hike one. I don’t even remember which massive waterfall we were at, but we saw a trail heading up into the saturated forest and off we went. The trail was paved but steep, and before long we were shedding layers trying to cool off. Mother Nature must have heard us and wanted to help, sending rain/ice balls down on us. But on we went, finally reaching Fairy Falls after about a mile and a half. It might not have been the biggest waterfall of the day, but it was lovely. The hike through the magical forest was worth it.

flowing stream after rain, Columbia Gorge

Water, water, everywhere!

We made a pit stop for lunch at the famed McMenamins Edgefield. I’ve been told repeatedly by numerous friends what an amazing place this is, and I’m sure I’ll be back to see all it offers. But this day was just for lunch, and after the super-delicious food, we headed back to see more incredible-ness. We hit up the viewpoints and observatory along the old road and the rain broke for us long enough to give us out-of-this-world views of the Gorge.

View from the Woman’s Forum viewpoint. The rock jutting out on the right is where the observatory is. I could stare at this view all day!

Down the old highway, we also came upon this super awesome tunnel from the original highway. It was filled in at one point, after the new highway was built, but has since been restored. I never knew a simple tunnel could be so neat-o!

historic tunnel, Historic Columbia River Highway OR

I see the light at the end of the tunnel!! 😀

It was a glorious day. We were worn out when we finally made it back to my house. We tried to stay up and play cards, but Sir and G had to leave crazy early Tuesday morning to catch their flight home. I had a hard time letting them walk out my door….

But that’s the great thing about friendships, they can come sailing back anytime, or drop anchor and stay awhile. There’s plenty of room in our harbors for the old ones and the new ones, and as long as we maintain them, they’ll never rot out. (I could go all day with this metaphor!) Sir has been a constant ship in my fleet, and sometimes the lighthouse guiding me along. I’m glad his ship has a shiny new coat of happy-paint that G has brought him, and that she has joined our little fleet, too. The more the merrier!

And friends we’ll always be.

😀





Northwest Junkies

24 01 2014

Another weekend visit from the dynamic duo, MASH. You probably recognize these cool cats by now – they’re my besties from Bend, and we have the best adventures together! MLK weekend has become an annual event for us (two years in a row – that makes it tradition!) and we crammed this weekend with all the fun we possibly could.

Visits from this awesome couple are proven good times, and this last weekend was no different. They arrived Friday night and we plotted and planned over dinner so we could hit the ground running (thankfully not literally…) Saturday morning. Even the pups seemed caught up in our excitement. So after a good night’s sleep, mini quiche and coffee, we set out for the first adventure of the weekend.

J and I live on the edge of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which puts us super close to awesome trails and a couple Wilderness areas. We had decided on an area we’d all been to, but this time we would hike a new trail: Trapper Creek. This would put us out in the Trapper Creek Wilderness. The day was chilly, the forest eerily shrouded in fog – perfect day for a hike! Off through the forest we went, Simba in the lead, four friends following, with a St Bernard somewhere in the middle keeping us all in line.

dog best friends hiking the trails, WA

Hiking buddies! (You humans are SO.SLOW.)

Layers were shed as the trail warmed us up. The moss and lichen hanging from the trees looked especially creepy with the fog. The ferns and damp air reminded us we were more west-side. Even our footsteps were muffled to almost silent as the sponge-like soil absorbed their sound. Not that it absorbed all our sound – we had lots of catching up to do! The morning progressed wonderfully, our boots eating up the trail while we chatted away.

We crossed the creek a couple times, then decided to stop for a snack break after a big crossing. Osa, my St Bernard niece, loves wading across the water – she gets hot and thirsty even on cool days. Simba doesn’t have the benefit of Osa’s long legs, however, and chose to cross on the log with us. Thankfully, no one died.

Snacks were dug out of back-packs and passed around. We all brought stuff to share and we had a little forest picnic right there on the banks of Trapper Creek. Then M-Dawg busted out his show-and-tell for the day: the JetBoil! MASH had received this handy gadget for Christmas, and M-Dawg had been dying to try it out. It’s made for back-packing, super light and compact, and boils water in 2 minutes. You know what that means, right? TRAIL COFFEE!!

hiking coffee made with JetBoil, WA

M-Dawg presents: the JETBOIL!! (Hoping to see this picture in my next REI catalog…)

The refueling was a great idea, as the next bit of trail had a much steeper grade to it. Don’t worry, we’re practically hiking professionals, so our group wasn’t even fazed. (Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but thankfully our group likes the challenge of hills. I’ve almost joined in.) We finally decided to turn back and retraced our footsteps. Simba had been off leash all day – we were in the middle of no where with almost no one around. We had almost reached the parking lot when I saw him take off and knew another dog was up ahead. He came racing back with a little beagle-looking pooch on his heels. The two were having a blast, but I knew Simba would be hard to get to come back, so I tried to slow him down as he ran by me. Why would I ever think that was a good idea?! We collided about like a locomotive hits a brick wall – Simba went airborne, I crashed to the ground. And Simba zoomed off as soon as he hit the ground. I didn’t bounce back quite as fast and nursed a sore ankle the rest of the day. Moral of the story: don’t use your own body to try and stop a maniacal, hyperactive dog running at top speed!

Finally home for the evening, us women took over the kitchen and whipped up a delicious dinner. The evening was full of food, card games, and TWO awesome rounds of Settlers of Catan – Ash destroyed us so fast the first time, we had to give it another go! Then off to bed – we had to get an early start Sunday!

Our planned departure time was 8am Sunday morning, and we almost made it. Dogs walked, breakfast digesting, cars packed, we were ready! The day’s plan included a nice Gorge hike followed up with some intense NFL action – Seahawks vs the 49ers!! So MASH packed their car and would just head home from Hood River after the game. Which meant Simba and J would ride with me and Osa and MASH would lead the way in their vehicle. Except Simba thought he might be getting left behind, or maybe he just hated being separated from his bestie. Whatever the reason, as soon as M-Dawg opened the top half of the back of his Element, Simba flew over the tailgate into the back. And he wouldn’t move. So Osa jumped in to take her spot, and Simba still wouldn’t budge. Needless to say, he got to ride to the trail head with Osa.

dog best friends sitting like puzzle pieces, WA

“I think we fit perfect. I could ride like this all day. I WILL NOT BE LEFT BEHIND!” And Osa didn’t even seem to mind.

Sunday’s trail was up Eagle Creek, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. I can’t express to you how in awe of this place I am. I want to go back again and again! The trail winds up the narrow little gorge of the Eagle Creek drainage, right along the cliff. Sheer wall of rock to the left and up, sheer wall of rock to the right and down. The trail climbs quickly and the wet winter morning sparkled and cut, the air cold, the rock slippery with patches of ice. We arrived early for two reasons: 1) to have enough time to make it back for kick-off and 2) to beat the hoards of people. The trail was mostly ours the whole way up, and no crowds blocked the views at the waterfall overlooks. Mist swirled around us as the morning sun hit the moisture in the air, and water dribbled down the cliffside above us. It was…pure magic. Add in the awe-inspiring waterfalls on the creek below us and the incredible forest around us, and you’ll picture my paradise.

early morning on Eagle Creek trail, Oregon

Just squeeze behind that little spray coming down.

man and dog hiking Eagle Creek OR

Man and his dog in the wild outdoors. Fantastic. #nofilter

It’s funny how time has changed us. Ash and I have been friends for a long time, and it’s cool to see our friendship evolve. We covered 6.6 miles on Sunday, providing ample time for conversation. In times past, we would have discussed the latest hot guy hired in home theater (we worked at Best Buy together) and the outfits we wanted to wear for our next trip to 6th St in Austin and the horrible finals from our mean professors and which friends were hooking up with each other. My how the times have changed! Now it’s which friends had babies (almost all of them) and who’s next to the marriage alter and decorating tips and easy week-night dinner recipes. *gasp* We’re all grown up!

And M-Dawg and J-Rock slowly stretched the gap between us, creeping farther and farther ahead. They had been discussing football all morning. On and on and on. I asked Ash if we were to send them on ahead and tell them to come back for us when they finished talking football, if we’d ever see them again. We agreed it’s doubtful. But it’s wonderful knowing that they guys can carry on their discussions so us ladies can have ours. Girl talk with Mother Nature. Perfect. 🙂

We stopped for another picnic and JetBoil demonstration, then decided to turn around. And the hike out was crowded with people! What a great decision to get an early start. Lucky for us, most folks don’t go as far up the trail as we did, but the parking lot was overflowing. Simba rode in his own car this time and we headed to a sports bar in Hood River for a late lunch and lots of football. (For those non-fans, Seattle is going to the superbowl!! M-Dawg was a great sport despite his team losing, and J didn’t even rub it in…too much.)

And then our awesome weekend was over and MASH had to head back over the mountain to Bend. I came across a comment an old friend wrote about Ash after she posted her pictures on Facebook, and I wish I would have thought of it first. He called her a Pacific Northwest Nature Junkie. And it’s so true! I hope I can fall into the same category – I want to be a junkie!

That’s what it feels like – an addiction. Ash and I have lived up here for over 4 years now, yet we still can’t get enough. I can’t speak for her, but I’m pretty sure she feels the same way – give me MORE!! Every trail is exciting, every mountain gorgeous, every forest my favorite. From Bend’s unique high desert to Eagle Creek’s saturated temperate forest – I want to explore ALL of it. I get grouchy and irritable if I go too long with it, and I’m constantly looking for my next fix. What’ll it be this time – hiking? biking? climbing mountains? skiing? snowshoeing? rock climbing? ALL OF THE THINGS??!

The best part is knowing I’m in good company with all these other junkies, MASH especially. I can count on them to join me for that next fix, or (more likely) invite me on theirs. So, what’s next? Stick around and find out!

Are you a nature junkie, too??

😀








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