Tonight, we will test just how convenient it is for us to live approximately an hour from Boston. And we will test if we’re really approximately an hour from Boston. I’m willing to bet we’re not, at least not around 4:30/5pm on a weekday. But still! We should get there quicker than we were able to get to Portland.
Why are we going to Boston on a Wednesday night? It’s a surprise! But it’s a surprise for John, not you, and by the time I publish this, he’ll already know why we’re going, so it’s safe to tell you. I mean, he knows we’re going to Boston tonight already. It’s not THAT much of a surprise.
I’m pretty confident he’ll be happy when he figures out who we’re going to see. Sort of an early birthday present, I guess.
For those of you following along at home, Thursday night we drove from Eugene to Bend, OR. Not terribly far, but we got a late start. Friday, we drove from Bend to Pocatello, ID, a town I’d never heard of before picking it off the atlas page as a likely place to spend the night. Saturday, which I think was yesterday (and figuring out what day it is is part of why I’m writing this down right now), we left Pocatello and headed north to Montana, clipping the very western edge of Yellowstone National Park along the way, which was REALLY neat. I’m not a camper, so I never put seeing that kind of national park very high on my list of things I was likely to see. Ever. Happening upon it while trying to do something else was a nice surprise.
I suppose we could have put something more inspiring behind us, but it seems I didn’t take any pictures of the more spectacular views we drove by. Short-sighted on my part.
Anyway, we found the mountainous pretty part of Montana first (which is how it always looks in our heads), but then we kept driving east and it got flatter and more desert-y. It does indeed have a big sky, but the sky would have been bigger without the smoke haze. Blue sky straight up, haze on every horizon. Oh, well. We’ll keep plugging east until we can get past all the fires.
When we left Eugene, the road ahead looked like this.
Not too much later (remember, we only drove for about two and half hours the first night), we could see smoke over the mountains in the distance.
Okay, so that one is not very much in the distance. We’d heard there might be road closures due to forest fires, but we didn’t expect to see this, right from the road.
The traffic merged to one lane and there were fire trucks and firefighters and it was all very exciting and SO TOTALLY WEIRD. All of my other pictures are big blurry messes, but there were individual trees burning like torches. It’s one thing to know it happens and another to drive alongside.
Today (Day 2, or full Day 1) was uneventful. Plenty of smoke haze on the horizon across the rest of Oregon and into Idaho, but no visible fires. We may be taking a slightly more southerly route across Montana to stay on the interstate and get away from the smoke faster. We’d like to drive away from the scratchy throats, please.
There have been forest fires just southeast of Eugene the last few days, enough to make the whole sky hazy. John took me flying this morning, and we had to keep a close eye on where the visibility got bad so we could stay away. We didn’t see any actual fires, but the smoke was everywhere. These pictures were taken around 11am today, a day without clouds.
That third one is Spencer Butte. Contrast that picture with this one, taken from the top of Spencer Butte on a day without forest fires. Same camera, facing approximately back to where the plane would have been this morning.
I’m not going to be sad to move out of forest fire country.
A horse stepped on me this weekend. I’m fine (really fine – I ran this morning), but I was a little anxious for a couple of hours on Saturday. I spent the day at a horse show just south of Portland. Wendy was there with Tigger, Olive, Dobby (Tigger’s co-dependent pony friend), and Ava (the horse who stepped on me) because two of her 14-year-old students were riding in it. Their events were first thing Saturday, so I got up early and drove up to watch them.
That part, the whole day really, minus the part where I got stepped on, was pretty cool. I got to see my lesson horses compete and do more than I’ve asked them to do, and I got to watch a whole lot of really good riders on really big horses do really cool things. The weather was beautiful (not a cloud in sight), and it was really neat to just hang out and watch all the riding and jumping.
The stepped on part: Wendy needed to clean out stalls, so Elaine (my friend who wrote the romance novel) and I volunteered to take Olive and Ava for a walk to give Wendy time. Ava was anxious, even right next to Olive, and I couldn’t calm her down, so we headed back to the stalls. We got separated (too many people), and Ava basically freaked out. Then someone zipped by on a scooter, and a golf cart passed us, Ava spun around, and while I was trying to turn her the right direction to go home, she stepped on my right foot. Like, STEPPED on with her full weight because she was walking. It was…painful, and I may have yelled some things in front of some children, and then she stepped off and we made our way back over to Wendy. Wendy wasn’t done with her stall, though, so I still had to deal with a giant* nervous horse. I was letting her eat grass, but we were near a food truck and there was an extension cord, and she didn’t like me trying to move her away from the extension cord to keep her from eating it and she was still high-strung even being closer to her herdmates, whirling around every time a car went by, and I wasn’t super calm since my foot hurt and she was making me nervous and I’m sure I wasn’t successfully radiating serenity even though I was trying to, and it was a whole not-fun thing. I was relieved to put her back in her stall.
*I’m not kidding about giant. I mean, there are bigger horses, but she’s the biggest one I’ve had to do anything about. She’s half thoroughbred and half shire (workhorse along the lines of a Clydesdale), and she’s 16.2 hands at her withers (top of her shoulder, a tad higher than the top of the base of her neck), which puts her withers at the top of my head (because if I did the math right, 16.2 hands is 66 inches – the .2 refers to two inches, not two-tenths of a hand – which is my height). That’s big.
I was wearing my chucks that day, not boots, so basically no protection, and I spent the next several hours wiggling my toes and flexing my foot to make sure I still could. The pain faded to an ache, and then that faded, too, and by the time I drove home, I was totally fine. I have a fun bruise I keep poking at, but no lasting damage. Until one day the front half of my foot falls off because it turns out I have a hairline fracture or something and I didn’t rest or treat it because it didn’t hurt, but eh – why borrow trouble?
Let me tell you the story of our hike last Saturday. “Story”, since it’s not like anything eventful happened. Mostly I want an excuse to show you pictures. Oh, that reminds me – I want to preface all these pictures with something. Every picture and video posted here was taken by me on my phone’s camera. I have the resolution cranked all the way up, and for the still photos, I have HDR turned on. I don’t edit my photos, and I don’t use filters. (This is not a vanity or ego thing – I don’t have the patience or desire to spend that much time on my pictures.)
Anyway, I wanted a hike with waterfalls, but I didn’t want to drive all the way across the state to see the famous ones, like Multnomah Falls (two and a half hours away) or Klamath Falls (three hours away). Luckily for us, the Mackenzie River has a trail called the Waterfalls Loop Trail, and it starts less than 90 away from us.
We started at the Carmen Reservoir. The day was perfect.
The river was so clear it looked it looked chlorinated, and the water was so cold that the air on the banks felt like air conditioning. Everything smelled fresh and clean and clear and that reminds me of something I forgot to mention about our redwoods hike. That national park smelled SO GOOD. Margaret, wonder that she is, explained that the park has a lot of bay trees, and surprise surprise, they smell like bay leaves, and it was so freakin’ pleasant (and I am so glad we had Margaret to tell us that because otherwise I would not have been able to explain why it smelled so good). This forest did not smell like bay leaves, but it smelled like fresh, clean air, and it was so nice.
The path was clear and well-maintained (and by the waterfalls, it had big log railings that reminded John of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg), and the forest was beautiful.
And then we rounded the corner and saw the first of two waterfalls. (I think it was Koosah Falls.)
It was loud, of course, but I could have watched it for hours.
Speaking of well-maintained trails, I’m always tickled to find stairs in the woods. These were on the way up the river, past the first waterfall to the second (and the top of the loop).
So then we came to the second waterfall. Look at all that green! I can’t get over how nearly neon it was.
Then of course we asked someone to take our picture. Not great, but whatever.
So we climbed to the top of that waterfall and kept following the trail, but when it was time loop back, we weren’t ready. There was another path that was supposed to lead to Clear Lake (never heard of it, but it sounded promising), so we figured we’d follow that for a little bit.
It led us here. We weren’t impressed.
We were going to turn back, but another hiker came by and pointed out that the trail continued on the other side of the road. That was awfully nice of her because that’s how we found the Lake of Shining Waters Clear Lake.
It had a cool bridge going across the river.
We walked a little and turned around pretty quickly, but when we got back to the bridge, it had been overrun by tweens from sleepaway camp. There were at least 20 of them, daring each other to jump off the bridge, their camp counselors egging them on. I got video.
After that, we headed back to the waterfalls loop to go down the other side. We found where the trolls live.
And then as we got to the top of that upper waterfall, we climbed down from the actual trail to get closer to the water and I found my new favorite spot in the whole world.
That’s where the water plunges down, that horizontal line of frothy water with trees above it (beyond it). My toes were an inch from the waterline on the bank.
I crouched down under a tree to get the water rushing over rocks inches away.
Shifting my focus upstream, look at how clear it is and then how cold it looks.
And then there was this spot, where I could sit up against a tree with the water rushing by below and the dropoff 30 feet ahead.
We stopped here for a while.
And, well, John was hot, so he tested the temperature.
We did eventually head back down the trail, and we found ALL the rainbows at the first waterfall.
This next picture is why I mentioned all that stuff about not editing and not using filters. I have done nothing to this picture to make it look like this.
It’s my favorite. Occasionally I get lucky. And that day, I was very happy to be on that trail.
This is a bit out of date, but I have pictures and video, so why not share?
Eula Ridge is only maybe 30 minutes outside of Eugene (although it took us more like 45 minutes since we went past it the first time – it’s not well-marked). It’s all wooded, nice and shady.
There’s a little parking area at the bottom, right off the road, and there was a truck and a school bus parked there when we arrived. The bus driver warned us that they had just dropped about 35 mountain bikers off at the top (I can only assume there’s a road that goes up since a bus did NOT take the trail we were on), and they were going to be making their way down, and we should be careful.
John and I started up the trail worried that a pack of mountain bikers would mow us down. We spent the entire hike scouting for good spots to hop off to the side. There were a few kind of narrow scary parts, but mostly there was plenty of room for us to get out of the way. They came through pretty spread out, one at a time, not at the breakneck speed I was picturing.
It was a really nice afternoon. Some website said it’s three miles to the top, but there aren’t any spectacular views, and we had…something…that night (I don’t remember what – it was nearly a month ago), so we turned around at two miles up. I took video to commemorate it.
And of course I tried to get a selfie of us.
We are not good at the selfie thing.
I will leave you with the soothing sounds of a babbling brook for meditation.
After I recovered from my fall yesterday, back on Tigger, back in charge, right back into cantering, it was time to jump. We did this thing I’ve never heard of* called gymnastic jumping. It’s lining up a bunch of jumps together, and it’s meant to help me focus on my jumping form. There are probably other reasons for it, too, but that’s the one Wendy told me about. So she set up the jumps in two long lines. The first time, there were only two jumps, one stride in between. Horse goes over the first jump, takes one stride, goes over the second, and then we come back around and do it again. Then she added a third, another stride away, then a fourth. The fifth jump was four or five strides past the fourth. That’s the top row in the sophisticated diagram below.
Not to scale, duh.
All of that went pretty smoothly, 1-foot jumps, way fun. We took turns running through it, Daisy and Dobby first, then me and Tigger. There was one incident…Wendy set me and Tigger up to go through that set of jumps after Daisy and Dobby, but Tigger could still see Dobby at the far end, and since we’ve already learned that Tigger wants to be near Dobby all the time, you can probably imagine the speed at which we barreled through that set. It was exhilarating and scary and fun and TOO FAST FOR ME, especially since it happened maybe 10 minutes after I fell off. We adjusted so that Dobby was well out of eyesight before Tigger lined up for the jumps for the rest of the lesson. That helped.
Oh, and then Daisy, wunderkind, jumped that set on Dobby with her arms held straight out from her sides. Like she was flying. It was AMAZING.
I did not try that.
Then we switched to the second line of jumps (the bottom line in that diagram), and in addition to setting up the jumps in a close row, Wendy raised two of them to 2’3″. TWO OF THEM (the ones with the double x). I’ve jumped that high twice only, in one lesson weeks ago, and it was a single jump. Like before Christmas, so months ago, really. It was SO COOL. Exhilarating again, but in a less scary way. I can’t wait to do more of that.
So, yeah. My lesson was exciting. I’m curious to find out how afraid I’ll be of getting back on Tigger next week. Right now I feel okay, but when I’m standing in front of him, knowing how he gets, knowing that I can fall off, will I be scared?
*It’s safe to say that nearly everything I’m learning is a thing I’ve never heard of. Even if I’ve heard of it (dressage, for example), I probably don’t really know what it means or what it is, and I certainly don’t know how to do it.
Over 7,000 people marched in Eugene today, me and John and Christina included, in solidarity with people all over the country and the world. There was chanting (“This is what democracy looks like” and “My body, my choice, her body, her choice” and others), a drumline, lots of signs, and a ton of rain. Supposedly there were speakers, too, but we didn’t see or hear any of them. Just a lot of friendly people walking together, bumping into each other and apologizing constantly. No violence, no threats, no crime. (Okay, the newspaper said there was one graffiti incident.)
I don’t have anything profound to say here, not least because it would be in violation of my mission statement. I’m just glad we went.
It snowed most of today and then sleeted the rest of the day. John and I did NOT go to the grocery store yesterday (which should surprise no one who knows us), so we had to venture out for dinner. We got all bundled up (temps were in the high 20s) and headed for downtown and the nearest food, but we got stalled at the train tracks by the SLOWEST TRAIN EVER.
Aaaaannnnndddd then it stopped, right where it was. That building on the other side is where we were trying to go. So close! We waited. Waited some more. Waited a little longer. Watched a guy in a sweatshirt with no coat swing himself over the linkage between two cars. Meanwhile, the train hadn’t budged. We could see the end of it maybe 100 yards away to the left, so we eventually gave up waiting and followed the train to its end (no caboose!) and crossed behind it.
Then we had sushi because who doesn’t deserve sushi after contemplating climbing over a train?
I should stop being annoyed by my constant time zone confusion and treat it like an adventure. Friday morning at 9am (local), I looked at the forecast and saw that rain was predicted for 12:30. “Oh, no,” I said. “I want to run, but it might rain on me while I’m out there. That sucks.” THEN I remembered that no, even though my laptop says it’s noon, and everyone I work with is heading out to lunch, and I’ve been working for long enough that it feels like midday, the 12:30 forecast for rain is three and a half hours in my future, not half an hour. I’ve been to noon already, I’ve seen the rain coming, but now I’m back to 9am and I have plenty of time to run.
The other night, John and I went to Will and Christina’s house (new house – they live in Eugene now YAY!) for a friendly game of DUN DUN DUN….Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, we are great big grown-up nerds, and we had a really good time. John DM’d it, and Christina did her best to save our butts.
I chipped in by buying themed wine. We drank this one, and I will be buying it again. Good stuff.
We didn’t get to this one, but it looks promising. I’ll let you know.
You know, I just took a closer look at the actual bottle, and there’s a picture of a squid on it. That makes it decidedly less appetizing. I’ll take the hit, though. I’ll do that for you.
I usually get annoyed when I skip a day on the ol’ blog here, but I can’t be mad about skipping yesterday. I didn’t plan to skip – I thought I’d be back home in time to get it done – but it was late because we were out having adventures and doing fun things and taking LOTS of pictures. I can forgive myself for that.
None of the pictures you’re about to see have been edited, mostly because I don’t really know how to do that, and I’m too lazy to bother with it. The signs all over Crater Lake National Park say that the water is so blue because it’s all rain and snowmelt and because it’s the deepest freshwater lake in the country. It was incredible. I didn’t want to look away. Of course, I did look away because who would believe we were there if we didn’t take pictures? I love being a tourist.
I can’t help but like this one, even though we could be ANYwhere since you can’t really see the lake.
It was hard to leave, even after our hike. Oh yes – we hiked. In our infinite wisdom, we chose one of the strenuous hikes, meant to take 2-3 hours and gain over 1000 feet in elevation. In our defense, there were only two hiking trails within walking distance of where we parked, and the other one was easy and seemed to follow the road we’d just driven down. BOR-ing.
If you squint, you can see the Crater Lake Lodge in the upper center part of this picture, which is where we started. I think we were about halfway when I took this one.
The temperature was in the 70s, and we were working hard, so we were plenty warm, but there was SNOW on the ground. Not everywhere, certainly, but we had to climb through a slippery melting snowbank to get to the top. That was the scariest part. Well, coming back down through the snowbank was the scariest part.
We did reach the top, though. Here we are on Garfield Peak, 8000 feet above sea level. I don’t know how many feet we were above lake level.
And here’s another terrible selfie (it was really bright out, okay?).
I think I might have to make that one my profile picture for ALL of my accounts.
John wants to run down this meadow. I’m willing to bet it’s steeper than it looks.
I think I took this next one on the way back down.
Here we are, tired and happy and soon to be very hungry.
We left about 6pm (we got there around after noon, close to 1, I think), but it’s 2 and a half hours away, so it was nearly 9 before we got back to Cottage Grove, and after 9 before we ate. Almost midnight when we got home, still had to shower (covered in sweat and sunscreen – totally gross), and we’re only a little bit sore today. Our gym has a hot tub. We may be heading there this afternoon.