You know you are a true Oregonian when you go camping in the rain. Well, to be fair, we were yurt camping which is high on the glamping spectrum and is FAR easier to camp when the weather is unfavorable. Given that we live in Oregon and Oregon seems to have blown up with ourdoorsy, camping types in recent years, camping in close proximity to Portland is no longer an “on-a-whim” type of thing. We booked a yurt at Nehalem Bay State Park with a group of friends last year. It was my and the kids’ first time yurt camping, and we had a blast, despite some heavy rains on the first day and some night “challenges” from the kids.
Now that both the kids are mobile and can actually run off and play with other kids, camping is actually really fun. The general reaction we get when we tell people we are going camping with an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old is, “Why would you do that to yourselves?” Both recent camping trips have turned out really well, though. Of course, there are the challenges, bedtime difficulties, early wake-ups, and sugar highs (and subsequent lows), but I mentally prepare for that because: camping.
The Nehalem Bay Yurts were awesome: they include a bunk bed with a twin on top and full on bottom, and a pull-out futon with a full mattress. We brought the Pack’n’Play for Charlie, so everyone had their own bed. Best of all, the yurts have heaters in them. Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had cranked the heater to 80 degrees, so I was actually too hot at night – when does that ever happen camping? But really, having the heater makes staying the cold night with kids pretty easy. Ava woke in the morning at 4:50am and immediately woke the rest of us up. But, after Jet Boiled coffee and some fresh air, we were in good spirits.
We were rewarded for sticking out a raining evening and night with beautiful, sunny, blue skies the next day. The kids loved playing at the beach and getting sandy.
Another great Memorial Day rodeo weekend in the books! We headed to Shelton Wayside campground on Friday and spent two nights, returning home on Sunday. We did go camping one night last summer, but Charlie was still in full-on baby mode, so this was the first official camping trip with two mobile kids. To be honest, I was mentally preparing for the worst. We generally tend to avoid sleeping in the same room as the kids at all costs and always seek out vacation lodging options where everyone can have their own sleep space (this means Charlie has slept in more than a handful closets and bathrooms in his life). I was envisioning over-tired kids who wouldn’t go to bed, kids crying in the night, kids waking up at the crack of dawn, kids having to use the outhouse at 4am, etc…
As it turns out, I was very pleasantly surprised by how awesome the camping trip turned out. The kids had SO much fun and it was SO much fun for us to watch them really enjoy themselves. Ava is starting to enter the phase where she can really play with other kids, rather than just along side other kids. My friend Ashley had her kids there too, Rory (4.5) and Riley (8.5), and Ava and Rory totally hit it off and played so well together. Charlie loved just wandering around the campsite, exploring. Both the kids were so tired by bedtime that they easily passed out without much cajoling. On Night 1, Charlie woke up crying around 2:30am, probably because he was too cold. Despite the 90 degree day temperatures, the temps dropped to extremely chilly at night. It took us about 2 hours to finally get him to sleep, and luckily Ava slept through it all. But, once we woke up, saw the sun shining, and drank a cup of coffee, all was right with the world. On the second night, we put a hat on Charlie before bed, and had him sleep on his Pack’n’Play mattress between us, and he fell right asleep and slept through the night.
Saturday was taken up with rodeo events. Daniel started off the day by running the Spray Half Marathon. We met him in town for the buckaroo breakfast. Ava had a orange tang mustache for the entirety of the trip after downing two cups of the sweet elixir. Then, the rodeo parade, which Ava absolutely loved because she got to admire the rodeo queens with their glittery horses and sparkly shirts. Ava also really enjoyed the rodeo itself, and was quite perplexed by why the cowboys kept falling off the bucking broncos. Charlie seemed to enjoy himself too. The hardest part of the whole experience was the heat. The days heated up to above 90 degrees, which was quite difficult with two very small children.
Overall, we had a blast, more fun than I anticipated. The trip was a great test for us, because now we realized that a) we can do more camping this summer and b) we can be a little more flexible with vacations because sleeping in the same space as the kids actually wasn’t so bad.
We spent the weekend in a cozy cabin at Summit Meadows, a short walk from Trillium Lake. Last time I was at Summit Meadows, the snow pack was long gone, but this time we had a great base of snow (and it was still coming down!) for snowshoeing around the lake and gazing out at the falling flakes.
It just so happened to also be Ava’s third birthday on Friday! We celebrated with cupcakes and presents after dinner.
Yesterday we returned from our honeymoon in Sunriver, OR. Around the time I realized I was pregnant, Daniel and I realized that going on a huge, bang-up honeymoon to Turkey and Greece was probably no longer in the cards due to my extreme exhaustion. Although I am dying to go to Turkey and Greece, we decided we better save that trip for when I have my normal 100% energy back. So, instead we decided to head to Sunriver, one of my favorite spots in Oregon. Doing so was definitely a great decision as the week was totally conducive to rest and relaxation.
The week consisted on a LOT of sleep. Seriously: the first day we were there I took a 2 hour nap, and then proceeded to sleep 10 hours during the night. I kept with the 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night after that, as I was catching up on lots of sleepless nights and exhaustion from wedding planning and the actual wedding itself.
In addition to lots of sleeping and napping, we spent our time reading (me: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and Daniel: two sci-fi novels), taking walks to the Village, going on bike rides, watching Carolyn’s tennis matches (Daniel’s mom happened to have a tennis tournament in Sunriver when we were there), going on a canoe trip of the Deschutes, a long hike to Benham Falls, and (mostly Daniel) gazing at the copious amounts of small planes coming in and out of the Sunriver Airport. All-in-all, it was SUCH a luxury to just be 100% lazy and do nothing but lay around and immerse ourselves in our books (we had rented one movie, Silver Linings Playbook, near the beginning of the week, but failed to even watch that as we both preferred the novelty of simply being able to read for hours at a time. We spent the last night having a fun dinner with Carolyn and Daniel’s family friends, Scott and Sarah Grewe, at the Lodge (which amazingly, for how many times I’ve been to Sunriver, I had never been to before!).
Daniel and I both returned to Portland feeling rested and fresh, ready to be productive again and go back to normal life (whatever that is)!
We didn’t take many photos during our honeymoon (I think our cheeks still hurt from so many photos from the wedding, but here are a few:
Wow, it has been quite the whirlwind few days and I’ve been meaning to write a post, but have hardly had a moment’s downtime. By now, I’ve washed all my camping laundry, shampooed the smell of camp fire out of my hair, and have completed several tick checks. But… the big news of the weekend: no cowboys were taken away in ambulances, it only rained once, we made grilled pizza over the fire and… DANIEL AND I GOT ENGAGED ON SUNDAY!!!!!! 🙂
Daniel wrote his side of the story here. Now, I thought I would share mine.
So, it’s Sunday, day 2, of the Spray Rodeo, one of my favorite events of the year. Going to the rodeo is a family tradition that I have been doing since I was six years old. I love going to Spray, Oregon. It’s about 3.5 hours from Portland, but a world away in my book. It’s the most amazing little slice of Americana you could ask for. No pretenses here. Spray rodeo attracts the real cowboys, whose life is all about rodeo and, probably, farming. I enjoy immersing myself in the scene over Memorial Day Weekend.
It’s mid-way through Day 2 of the rodeo. They had just finished the cow-milking contest and were about to do the women’s 1/4 mile horse race. I was sitting in the stands next to Kathy Albert, a good family friend. We were talking about all sorts of things, commenting on the rodeo, and enjoying looking at the rodeo names (think: Brian Bain, Dan Durfey, JJ Harrison, Jade Crosley, BJ Taruscio… you get the point). It had been a great rodeo year, and we still have a few more events to go. Notably: bull riding, which is always my favorite. All the sudden, Scott Allen, the long-time Spray announcer, changed the pace of events and said (in his Southern twang): “Alright ladies and gentlemen. We have a special announcement…”
Kathy and I peered over at him and, lo and behold, who was standing there, but Daniel! We both looked at each other and I said: “What’s Daniel doing in the ring?” Kathy said: “Maybe he wants to ride bulls.” Then Daniel took over the mic and this happened:
I was so shocked and nervous, that the whole thing was a bit of a blur. I know this for sure because the next day I finally got cell-phone service, and called my best friend (and now Maid of Honor!) Jane. Later she saw the video and said: “I know you must have been so shocked and excited, because you didn’t even mention that the rodeo clown said you look 15 when you called me!” Of course, she knows me too well, because I usually get annoyed when people say I look 15.
Of course, I said yes! Shell-shocked, we walked out of the arena, and they promptly got back to business, with the women’s quarter-mile race. We went to find Joann, the rodeo organizer who let Daniel pull this stunt, to thank her. She was still in Frank’s Pub. We walked into Frank’s Pub (an alcohol drinking section of the bandstand) and everyone cheered. Joann was happy as a clam, and informed us this was the first time in rodeo history this had happened. The proprietress of Frank’s gave us a few beer tokens. “It’s on us!” she shouted. We went back to get a beer. I was hoping for a nice IPA to top of the moment. “Whaddya got?” I asked the woman. “Coors or Coors Light,” she replied. Coors Light it was. We toasted our Coors in the pub and welcomed the onslaught of cowboys who came up to us to say congratulations.
It was an amazing day in Spray Rodeo history, one that I will NEVER forget! When the excitement calmed down, Daniel and I practiced saying that we were now each other’s “fiance.” And then, as the shock wore off, I realized I get to marry my best friend!
Today was monumental: it was the first day in weeks I haven’t even cracked my school books. Instead, Daniel, Riley, Amy and I headed to the Gorge for an awesome hike. Dog Mountain was pretty butt kicking: calf killer on the way up and quad killer on the way down. Great day for a hike, although it was pretty windy at the top. No, Amy and I did not plan our perfectly matching outfits. Great minds just think alike.
This trip was last weekend, but, better late than never! I spent a great weekend at Summit Meadow Cabins with Daniel and his family. Summit Meadow Cabins, located on Mt. Hood, are only reachable in the winter via cross country ski or snowshoe, which means we packed all our food for two nights and three days ahead of time and dragged it in via toboggan.
We stayed in the Mineral Creek Cabin, which was perfectly cozy. The cabins are set a few miles away from Trillium Lake. We spent Sunday snowhiking/cross country skiing around Trillium Lake and luckily it was a gorgeous bluebird day. After lunch and some R&R at the cabin, we hiked up Multorpor Mountain for sunset. While the hike up Multorpor is not particularly long, the route we chose was incredibly steep, which really got the endorphins pumping.
I highly recommend Summit Meadow Cabins to anyone in the greater-Portland area. It is super accessible from town, and makes a wonderful, quiet mountain getaway.
On Saturday morning, way before the time I could even refer to as “bright and early,” at the ungodly hour of 2:15 am, Daniel and I woke up after three hours of sleep to head to the Oregon Coast. I got up, splashed some cold water on my face in an attempt to become coherent, and we hopped in the car and sped off to Newport. Daniel drove (powered by Mountain Dew) and I slept a bit more. We arrived at the harbor around 5 am where we met Ry and Steph, along with Katy, Dave and Amit (Ry’s friends from medical school). The trip would be a half-day at sea on a chartered fishing boat. The seven of us were excited to catch some fish and enjoy the ocean air at sea.
We all boarded the boat and headed out into the open ocean. Sailing the high seas! It was glorious! I was slightly under dressed. I semi-forgot that this was still the Oregon coast, and it’s almost always cold. Our charismatic captains drove our boat a few miles off shore and we began fishing from poles positioned around the edge of the deck. My group started pulling in fish right off the bat. I was feeling rather lucky, especially after I struggled for a few minutes to pull up my heavy line. It was surely a 40 pound cod! What else could it be? Well, it turned out I had caught the bottom of the ocean with my line. Oops. Shattered dreams. Tears. Amit, who was standing two feet to my right, caught a total of four fish. I caught a total of zero. Amit suggested he had the right “fish pheromones” to do the job. That’s definitely it.
Two hours into the boating trip, I started to feel not so glorious anymore. The rocking of the boat was scrambling my stomach, which was full of nothing but coffee (oh, and spicy chicken wings from the night before). As the minutes ticked by I felt more and more green. The slightest things began to bother me. A woman chain smoking cigarettes. The smell of the stale coffee in carafes inside the cabin. The squeaking of the bathroom door. The captain’s incessant cheery banter with the rest of the passengers. For the next three hours I was in utter misery. Roaming between the cabin and the deck, gazing off into the horizon, trying to settle my stomach. Leaning over the edge of the deck, praying that I would throw up and feel better. “I don’t think I’m ever going deep sea fishing again,” I thought to myself.
To console those of us that hadn’t caught any fish, the captains had laid out crab pots a few days previously. For an excruciating hour we drove around to the coordinates to pick up the crab pots, most of which contained about 10-15 crabs. Daniel and I each bought a crab license, so we would be able to take home a total of 12 crabs each (turned out we each took home 11). Finally, we had taken in all the crab pots and were headed back to land. I counted down the seconds until I could stand on the earth. In typical fashion, the minute we got into calm waters, I forgot how miserable I had been for the previous three hours and thought about how I couldn’t wait to go deep sea fishing again. Sigh. Some people never learn.
After we docked, the people in the marina boiled our crabs for us right away. Daniel and I packed our 22 crabs (and four fish fillets) in a cooler with ice and headed home (after a delightful meal with the group at Local Ocean).
The fishing trip, at least the final three hours of stomach-knotting sea sickness, was surely Type II Fun (not fun now, fun later). Having survived, I can now look back on the experience fondly. We had some good old fashioned Type I Fun (fun now) on Sunday evening. We had an enormous crab feed for 17 people at Daniel’s house to share our bounty of 22 crabs with our friends and family (Ry and Steph brought 6 of their crabs over, too). The feast included crab cakes, plain crab and butter for dipping, cole slaw, quinoa salad, carrot/kale/beet salad, herb cauliflower/almond flour flat bread, homemade tartar sauce (using homemade mayo), blackberry pie, blackberry cobbler, lots of vanilla ice cream, and some great wine. Couldn’t have asked for better food or company to share this meal with.
A few photos from the trip and the dinner below. You may wonder why I have no photos from the actual boat. I wonder that too. At the time, the thought of pulling my camera out of its bag and focusing on taking photos of people and the boat was completely unfathomable. So, after-photos will have to do.
This post is Part 2 about the Santa Cruz trek in Peru. Part 1 can be found here.
I woke up and peeked out the tent to see where we had pitched tent the previous night in the dark. It turned out we were in an expansive valley, the floor of which was covered in yellow grass-covered dirt moguls. It was obviously an animal pasture judging by the amount of animal waste littered everywhere.
Packed up and got ready to make (what we thought at the time) the final ascent to the Punta Union Pass. The first few hours of walking on Day 3 was quite pleasant, through meandering paths, across flat rocks and through a shaded forest area. After the third hour is when the terrain changed to a much steeper upward slog. As we passed 13,000 and then 14,000 feet the going became more and more difficult and laborious. I felt weaker and my bag felt heavier and the pounding Peruvian sun was exhausting. Walking at altitude can be rather frustrating: each steps is an extreme exertion, and one feels like resting every few steps.
Five or six hours of walking later and the pass seemed to perhaps be visible several hundred (but also several hours) feet above. It was 2:30 at this point and we were both rather tired and feeling the altitude. Instead of continuing on up to the pass, we decided to camp on the edge of a small lake to rest and acclimatize for another night.
I was feeling greasy and dirty, so I decided to take a “shower” in the lake. This consisted of standing knee-deep in the frigid water and washing my hair with a bowl. I emerged from the lake with totally numb feet, but feeling a little cleaner was sanity-saving.
We woke up early and quickly packed up to make the final ascent to the Punta Union. The terrain up to the top was steep and rocky, but afforded spectacular views of the adjacent mountain range which was within spitting distance. We thought we’d be the first ones to reach the Pass, but soon enough a couple (a guy from France and a girl from Germany) whizzed by us (they had really long legs). About an hour-and-a-half after leaving camp we reached the Pass! Glorious! Spectacular! It felt amazing to finally be at the top and look down from where we had come. The couple who had passed us was also at the top. We chatted with them for a while about endurance sports, marathons and mountain pursuits.
After taking a plethora of obligatory victory photos and eating an obligatory Snickers bar we headed down. And how good did it feel to no longer be fighting gravity? So good. Well, it felt good for about 20 minutes until my feet starting feeling like they were going to fall off. Over the past days I had begun to develop enormous, pillowy, liquid-filled blisters on the balls of my feet. Coming down from the pass exacerbated them and by the end of the following days I was hobbling, wishing for local anesthetic.
Several people in Huaraz had warned us against the Santa Cruz trek. “Horrible,” one guy said. “Just horrible.” Turns out he hadn’t even done it before. One reason people warned against it was because several months prior a glacial lake had broken causing an enormous landslide to wipe out a full valley. Apparently, this stretch of the trek was super dusty and unsightly. Actually, it was one of the coolest parts of the trek, in my opinion. To see the massive-scale damage of the slide was very cool, and in a way, humbling to see the power of nature right in front of my eyes. The walk along the landslide lasted around two hours. The “path” led through a barren, tree-less expanse, which kind of made me feel like I was on some sort of pilgrimage through the desert, or that I was following Moses or something.
After the landslide and a few more hours of walking we arrived at the final campsite where quite a few other trekking groups were already set up in an open field closed off with a rock wall. There are two types of trekkers: independent trekkers like us and group trekkers who pay to have their bags carried by donkeys and their meals cooked. We felt accomplished to have walked for the past four days under the load of our own things, cooking for ourselves and setting up our own tent each evening. But, on this final evening the smell of fresh chopped garlic and onions frying in butter from the group trekker’s kitchen tent was torturous. We consoled ourselves by buying a beer from an enterprising man who had set up a small “shop” for trekkers walking through. Beer was just what we wanted after the previous four days of hard exercise. For some reason, the “shop” also sold industrial size squeeze bags of mustard. Hmm. Even more torturous was the next morning when the smell of pancakes wafted to our tent. We fretted, consoling ourselves with copious amounts of nutella.
We woke up on the final morning of our trek and packed up for the last time. Estimates for how long it would take to get to Cashampampa varied, but it ended taking us around 4 to 5 hours. We were a little extra slow because it was steeply downhill most of the time (I’m not a huge fan of downhill and so am extra slow on it), and my blisters had flared up so bad that I considered cutting off my own feet with a rusty butter knife. Woe is me. I whimpered and limped along the trail and luckily Daniel tolerated it. But, four hours later, after nearly being gored by a bull, we spotted civilization! So close, yet so far! It took another 30 minutes until we reached the town of Cashampampa. What a journey! From Cashampampa we hailed a collectivo to go to Caraz. The taxi driver said this would take 15 minutes, but it ended up taking more like an hour. I amused myself for the hour listening to the other people in the taxi talk. I think they were speaking Quechua, a very interesting language which kind of sounds like Hebrew to me.
In Caraz we were eager for some sustenance that did not consist of energy bars, quinoa or powdered soup mix, so we stopped by a local restaurant for lunch before finding a collectivo back to Huaraz. The collectivo ride was short (about an hour-and-a-half). The collectivo attendant tried to charge us double because we are fat Americans. (Just kidding, he tried to charge us double because our backpacks took up too much space. We didn’t pay it though. Sucker!)
Back in Huaraz we walked (I limped) back to Caroline Lodging. Taking a shower reminded me of that scene in Austin Powers comes out of being cryogenically frozen. Full-body sanitization. After cleansing, decompressing and unpacking we went out for dinner at a place called El Fogon. We ordered some meat combo which turned out to be enough meat to feed the Peruvian army.
This could be the beginning of an (un)healthy addiction.
Mountains appeal to me. Walking on them, walking around them, climbing up them, sleeping on their slopes. There is an ethereal, yet audacious magnetism of a mountain that draws people from all over the globe, from all walks of life. Maybe it’s their big, looming forms visible from miles away. Maybe their fierce geographical permanence. They are the perfect blend of beauty and danger, which perhaps equates to a more magnificent whole than something in nature that is simply beautiful. Mountains are a reminder that, no matter how hard we try, we humans cannot control the natural world. In the world of “me, me, me,” mountains remind us that there exists something bigger than ourselves, although we still have the illusion that we could perhaps “conquer” then by reaching their summit. Climbing a mountain has an element of risk: bad weather could set in, the slopes could be slick, scree could move beneath your feet. But, for me and many others, this risk factor makes the endeavor infinitely more exciting.
Now, this weekend was no Everest summit, but I did reach the top of South Sister (10,358 ft). It was monumental for me because it was my first summit of a glaciated peak. I’ve done some basic mountaineering in Nepal, but never a summit (it’s a bit more difficult to reach summit there, as most are over 20,000 feet and require considerable experience). I got the opportunity to climb South Sister on Saturday with Daniel, Robin (friend from high school and Post leader) and Gordon (Post leader). The trip to Bend was initially supposed to be with high school kids from the Post, but many dropped out before the trip and so it ended up being just the four of us.
The drive from Portland to Bend always reaffirms my supreme adoration of Oregon. The terrain’s slow transition into high desert is soul soothing and makes me never want to leave this state. We arrived at Gordon’s home in Bend and quickly tucked into bed. After a short sleep, we woke up around 6 am and were outfitted and out the door by 6:30. The drive to the trailhead is 30 minutes and we were hiking up from Devil’s Lake by 7:15.
A sign at the beginning told us that the South Sister summit was 6 ¼ miles away, so we started up. And up. And up, and up and up. The journey started out with a bang on a very steep climb through the forest. Almost instantly mosquitoes swarmed us, which was a nuisance as none of us had thought to bring bug repellant. After we emerged from the forested area into the open snow fields the bug assaults subsided.
The journey to the top was simply lovely: sweeping, panoramic views of the Cascade range, shockingly blue skies, glimpses of milky green glacial run-off lakes, and deep red volcanic rocks speckling the horizon. More than anything, the journey to the top of South Sister is just a really, really long hike with some fairly steep sections. We tromped across snow fields, across some rocky patches and then, for the final ascent, up a steep scree portion that was a bit of a challenge. But, about 4 ½ hours later we reached the top! After summiting we had a long lunch and took some celebratory photos.
Around 1 pm we started heading down, which was considerably more speedy (thanks, gravity!). We slipped and slid down the steep scree slopes and then, after meeting back up with Gordon, hit the snow. Luckily for our creaky knees, Daniel had packed three plastic garbage bags which we used to slide down some portions of the mountain. Despite earning wet behinds, glissading down was a delight after the long, sweaty trudge up.
In the late afternoon, nearing the trailhead, we were once again assailed by mosquitoes. The four of us reconvened at Gordon’s car, unlaced our boots and peeled off our soggy socks. What a day! As we drove back into Bend, thirsty and exhausted, we could see in the distance the top of South Sister, where we had stood just hours earlier. “I can’t believe we were just up there!” I kept thinking. And that’s why I know mountain climbing is going to be addicting. As the summit disappeared behind us and signs of civilization rematerialized in Bend, I understood why people love climbing mountains: it’s a mental and physical test of yourself and it’s a tangible accomplishment you can see. Tired and satisfied, I stretched my stiff ankles, sank back into the seat of Gordon’s old Subararu and began plotting my next summit.