Category Archives: Travel

Ecuador

Andy and I are back from our trip to Ecuador. It was an amazing wonderful experience (mostly).

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View from the Teleferico in Quito Ecuador

We had a lot of great food.

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We saw a lot of cool sites.

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Eating Our Way to India

The trip to Europe this summer opened my eyes to international travel. I couldn’t help but think of all the cool places we could visit. Germany was a bit difficult for a vegetarian eater like Andy. Please don’t get me wrong, we LOVED Germany. We LOVE Germany and want to go back. But there were times it would have been nice to relax and not have to worry about if there was bacon in the salad or if there was beef stock in the mushrooms and creme.

So I thought “Why don’t we go to India?” Granted for some people, going to a location primarily for food is ridiculous. But then again, Andy and I went to Germany, Austria, and Belgium for beer. And if you’ve ever had naan, you’ll know why I want to go to India. Plus it has an amazing history!

We paid for my airline ticket with United Miles. For years, we charged all our groceries, parking, dining, etc on our United credit card (and paid the balance off each month). I joined the Mileage Plus Dining program where if you go to certain restaurants and pay the bill with your credit card you get extra points. Many of the restaurants were places that Andy and I liked.

So after getting my miles balance less than 19k in June, I have managed to get the balance back up to 40k+. You need more than 120k miles for an international round trip ticket so we have a long way to go. Tentatively we’ve scheduled the India trip for 2013. We also have a long way to go to save up the needed funds as well. But slowly but surely we will eat our way to India.

Small town fun

Andy and I ventured into Washington last weekend to one of our favorite areas. We had a fantastic time.
Eating candy on the side of the road

Local Theater

We found the coolest second hand store.

Chamber pot?

Recharge the Batteries

Andy and I left Portland for a few days of backpacking and whitewater rafting. We went up to the Sisters area for backpacking and to Maupin, OR for whitewater rafting.

Our camp

Camping with fire!

Andy!

Me!

On the bridge...almost back to the car.

Me with my pack.

Andy being silly...

Painting on the wall of our room.

Hidden chamber pot in a chair!

Weird stuff!

White River Falls

Smith Rock Sunrise Classic

My friend Amy suggested that we race in the Smith Rock Sunrise Classic a few months ago. I was intrigued by the idea as there were several different lengths to choose from 5k, 10k, and half marathon. I was very worried about my ability to run well due to the issues I’ve had with my IT Band. But a few weeks ago, I did a leg workout and the pain in my IT Band mysteriously disappeared.

Unfortunately Amy was not able to participate because of an ongoing issue with her shoulder/arm. I was very sad that Amy wasn’t able to come with me to Redmond/Terrebonne but I had been training for the half marathon and took time off of work to attend.

On Friday, (the day before the race) I traveled to Eastern Oregon. The start time for the half marathon was 6:15am but after ten minutes of being out at Smith Rock State Park I understood why. It was hot. And dry. And hot.

Smith Rock

Smith Rock

Scouting the location

So beautiful here...

I visited the site of the race, picked up my packet, and checked into my room at Motel 6 in Redmond. I had tried to get a room in Bend but it seemed like every place was booked. Staying in Redmond actually turned out to be better as it was significantly closer to the start of the race. So rather than driving 28-32 miles to Smith Rock State Park at 5am, I only had to drive 5-8 miles.

I laid all my gear out so that when I was cold and clumsy at 4:30am, I wouldn’t waste time looking for items.

That's me!

The official t-shirt

Settling down...kinda

I logged onto Yelp to find some suggestions for dinner. I came across a few promising reviews for a place called Red Dog Depot. If you are in Redmond, I highly recommend that you try the place out. Great food and good service.

I headed back to the hotel to try to get to bed early.

bedtime

I couldn’t really sleep past 3am on the morning of the race but forced myself to lie there until 4:30am. I hurried through pre-run rituals trying to choke down as much oatmeal and banana as I could. I arrived early to the site and was one of the first runners to arrive at the start line.

I felt very ready for the race until I saw the parking attendants slapping their legs. Mosquitoes were rampant at 5:30 in the morning. The next forty-five minutes were spent slapping various body parts, sipping water, stretching, and going to the bathroom.

I had a plan based on some advice I received about starting slow and gradually increasing my pace. I would love to write that I did that. But I did not. I am terrible at pacing. The race wasn’t marked so I wasn’t sure where I was at on the course. During my pre-race preparedness I failed to drive the course to visually mark each mile. I mistakenly assumed that at least some of the miles would be marked. The first mile was the only one that was marked. None of the volunteers knew what mile they were on either. We were told that there would be a porta-potty on mile 8, but later I asked a volunteer where I was at and he said 9k (which made no sense as I was running a 13.1 mile race not a 5k race).

There were a few long rolling hills on the course that I wasn’t anticipating. The landscape was gorgeous. We ran numerous farms where the scent of fresh hay and junipers could be smelled. The other runners were very friendly and jovial. As this was my first half marathon, I didn’t really know what to expect from myself. It was a hard race and I wish I had been much faster but I wasn’t. I finally finished somewhere around the 2 hour 30 minute mark. I was shooting for 2 hours and 15 minutes. But please note that the last mile and a half was very difficult due to the traffic snaggle (the road wasn’t closed to traffic). At one point I had to either stop running (due to a huge school bus that was shuttling runners) or jump over a huge tangle of barbed wire. I chose to stop as I didn’t trust my jumping abilities at that point. I also had to stop when a parking person told me to stop so a car could leave the parking lot. I did NOT appreciate this and let him know. Loudly.

DONE!!

Will I do this again? Hell yeah!

Ape Caves

Last weekend, Andy and I went to visit the Ape Caves. So the caves formed a about two thousand years ago due to a basaltic flow. Basaltic flows are very unusual and normally found only in Hawaii. The caves are called Ape Caves after the sponsor of the Boy Scout troop that first explored the caves. The caves are very dark and very cool.

We went on the more difficult route with little knowledge of how difficult it would be. Here’s the description from the site:

The 1½-mile (2100m), upper portion of the cave takes about 2½ hours to complete, returning on a surface trail. Cavers must climb over approximately 27 boulder piles and scale an 8-foot (2.5m) high lava fall.

The boulder piles, called breakdown, formed after the eruption subsided and the fluid lava drained from the tube. As the lava tube cooled, it began to shrink and crack. These cracks weakened the ceiling and walls causing parts of them to collapse. The entrances to Ape Cave formed in this way.

Andy in the caves

Aleta in the caves.

The lava tube

Family

Last Friday after a couple of glasses I wine, I looked around the room at my family as we had gathered at my Aunt Pat’s house for my Nana’s wake. I realized a how much I had grown up. During my teens and into my twenties, family was something to suffer through like the flu or a J-Lo movie not something you enjoyed. For all of my friends it was like that. We would all gather the evening before a major holiday when we all flew out or traveled to our families homes. We drank cheap pints of PBR one after the other commiserating over our situation. We would all try to up one another with ‘how bad it was going to be this year.’ Each story became a more intense version of Hell complete with nagging mothers, drunken brothers, and spiteful sisters or cousins. Within each story you could sense the feeling of isolation and not belonging to the clan that you were born into.

Me and my mom!

But last Friday night was different. I smiled as my mother recounted how my Uncle Greg was accidentally left behind by my grandparents. Laughed at my cousins impressions of my late Nana and even did a fair amount of teasing myself. These were my people. These were the people that knew the real me. The little girl who pulled her dress over her head, got gum in her hair, and cried when her mean little brother would swing her beloved Barbie’s around by their hair. You can fool your friends with how smart or cool you think you are but family never forget the acne, crooked bangs, and red hots and cheese up the nose (don’t ask). I think the awkward and sometimes uncomfortable thing about family is that they force you to acknowledge that you haven’t always been this smart, pretty, thin, or cool. But maybe my acknowledging how far we’ve come will help us to realize how much farther we can go. Or maybe I’ve spent way to much time over analyzing this situation. Oh well. I had fun with my family. That’s what counts.