The Steens and the Bend Beer Chase

Bret and I spent some time on the east side of the Cascades the last two weekends.

The Steens

Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of Bret’s extra day off and drove out to the Steens Mountains.  It was a lot of time in the car, but we were rewarded with a pretty nice camping spot and a real pretty hike.

We were also rewarded with several snake sightings, a lot of ticks and mosquitoes, and a tired puppy dog.

Bend Beer Chase

This past weekend, we participated in the Bend Beer Chase for the second year.  It is a 52-mile relay race.  This year, we pulled it off with just four runners (last year we had six).  The Cascadia Drinking Alliance consisted of me, Bret, Lauren, and Cindy and our amazing volunteers, Ed and Jason.

Here is a before picture of Cindy, Lauren, and I.  All smiles.

The race start

The only hand-offs I managed to catch were of Cindy handing the baton (a slap bracelet) off to Lauren.  It is starting to get warm in the first shot and officially hot by the second.

I think these really capture how much Lauren loves running.

A post-race, beer leg photo from Atlas Cider in Bend.

The race was super fun, especially in retrospect.  It was definitely more difficult with a team of four, but we had a great team and everyone stayed positive despite the heat and the extra miles.  I am pretty sure the beer tastings available at every exchange probably helped with the smiles and good attitudes.

Thanks so much to our designated driver, Jason, and our super volunteer, Ed.  Ed got accolades for being a great volunteer from the race staff and I can attest to the superiority of his flag waiving skills compared to other team’s volunteers.



The ladies take on Santa Catalina Island and celebrate some birthdays!

I had the chance to head down to southern California and spend the weekend with some of the greatest ladies I know last weekend.  Three of my friends just happen to have been born in succession, Jan 6th (Ramona), 7th (Lauren), and 8th (Erin).  They let a couple of Emilys join them for a weekend of backpacking and shenanigans.

We met up in LA on Thursday and explore Redondo Beach.  I am not going to brag, but I may have schooled Erin Kelly in some Skee ball that day.  We combined our skee ball tickets to acquire the purple snake, Lucille.

Ramona’s sister, Raquel, and Raquel’s partner, Tom, were kind enough to let us crash at their house Thursday night.  They also had a delicious cake to kick off the birthday celebrations!

Birthday #1, Ramona

We jumped on the ferry to Santa Catalina Island on Friday morning.  Ramona wears the ceremonial purple snake, Lucille.

We arrived at Two Harbors, after a two hour ferry ride, ready to put on our packs and get going.  Did I mention that this was a backpacking trip?

Our hike on the Trans Catalina Trail started out steep and muddy, but quickly offered some amazing views!

and Bison!!!

It turns out, some bison were brought to Santa Catalina Island in the 1920s to create some ambiance for a western film.  They left 14 when they finished filming and now there is a population of about 140 that graze across the island.

Our campsite was on the beach at Little Harbor.

Birthday #2, Lauren

We woke up Saturday morning to the sounds of the 17-mile aid station for a 50 mile trail run across Santa Catalina island.  The race had started at 5am and runners were still looking pretty strong!

We hiked back up into the mountains to the airport in the sky, where we stopped for a midday beer.

We made it to camp early enough to hike a couple more miles to an ironwood grove.  On the way back, we caught a nice sunset.

and we found a tire swing!

Birthday #3, Erin

The next day was our longest day on the trail and it gave us so many  beautiful vistas!  Beware of the prickly pear.

We arrived in Avalon that afternoon and explored the town a bit and grabbed some dinner and beers.

Final Day, no more birthdays 🙁

We woke up to a rainy day morning and packed things up one last time before jumping on the ferry back to LA.

We had enough time to shower back in Redondo Beach before hoping on our flights and scattering back to our respective homes.

Thanks ladies for an amazing weekend!  It was so nice to escape the cold weather for a couple days and hang out with such a fun group!

Race Report: Mary’s Peak 25k

There is a subtle, but significant difference between 25k and 17 miles.  At about 12 miles, I was feeling pretty good.  I dug pretty pretty hard from miles 13 to mile 15.5, thinking I was about to be done.  I used every fiber of my being not to cry for the last mile or so, when I saw the “1 mile to go” sign well after I though I should be finishing.   But I didn’t cry and I robot pounded my way to the finish.  I even managed a smile for the super psyched guy at the finish line (He ran the 50k and passed me. I was still smiling when he passed me because I thought I was less than a mile from the finish, and he told me that everything is great if you are still smiling at the end).  Other than the distance and the 2500 ft of climbing, it was a pretty nice race.  I got the full gamut of Oregon weather, light misty rain, heavy downpour rain, wind, thunder, sunshine.  I got to run some lovely single track and forest roads through mostly forest plantations.

blisters: 1

chafe: minimal

realizations: 2  (1.  don’t take race recommendations from really fit 20- something boys and 2. it is really nice to have a cool husband who will drive you home from the ridiculous runs you choose to go on)

holes in shoe with matching hole in sock : 1 (plenty enough to catch every twig on Mary’s peak)

race swag:  yes, that is a tecnu coin purse (everyone wants to think about poison oak while counting out change), finisher’s pint glass (much better than a useless medal), beer (the finish was at a school, so you couldn’t actually drink it), and t-shirt (yeah a white one!).

time I am going to go to sleep tonight: maybe now.



Also, I wrote a post about a month ago with the following pictures (probably in a different order), but it never posted (user error):

Ladies weekend with my bestie, Lauren (back in April).  Only our healthy activities are documented in the following pictures.

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Bainbridge Island with the lovely Fiscus Family (I may have found a new dream home-  the last picture)

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a couple pictures I loved that Bret didn’t post from our trip to Minneapolis

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I ran this half-marathon in May with Lauren.  Well, Lauren and I both ran it (she is a lot faster than me).



I rode my bike up McKenzie pass on a cold, rainy day with my awesome friend, German.



One last cute picture of Oval.  After our very, very slow walk this afternoon.


Some pictures from Charleston

I got to have nice long visit with my family in Charleston a couple weeks ago.  My first visit to my folks new home in the south.

Brian, Dad, and I went fishing out on the oyster flats in the rain the day I arrived.


Brian took care of the fly fishing.


Dad and I took care of the actually catching fish.


The weather felt familiar for the first few days (cold and rainy), but we got some nicer days towards the end of the week.  We made it out to Capers Island for a picnic.  A different sort of snag forest than I am used too.

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We had a guest appearance from our good friends, Diana and James.  I dragged them down from North Carolina to run a 10k with Kim and me.  Here is our before shot.



A couple shots from the run over the cooper river.

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worst selfie ever (but kind of hilarious).


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My folks and Rocky were nice enough to pick us up in Charleston by boat, so we would not have to take the bus home (the bridge into Charleston was closed for the run).

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After the weekend, the crowds cleared out at the Comfort Inn, and Kim, Rocky, my Mom, and I got to go see the Angel live oak.  Pictures do not do justice to what a massive and pretty tree this is.

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It was a great trip and I was very sad to say farewell, but it was nice to get home to these two.

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Thanks for holding down the fort and taking care of our growing posse of ladies, Bret!

Hagg Lake Mud Run

Happy Valentine’s Day all.  We had a great weekend.  We got to see lots of friends and family, we went for a nice hike in Tillamook State Forest, and I ran a 25km run.


Oregon is really green and lovely after all the rain we’ve been getting.

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Oval loved the hike, she would have enjoyed the run to if she could have joined me.



The mud run run really lived up to its name.  I didn’t get any after pictures, but I was definitely pretty caked in mud.  I never fell on my butt, but there were some real slippery spots, so it was slow going a lot of the time.  I worked off the chocolate cover strawberries Bret greeted me at the end with for sure 🙂



Just in case you thought Bret didn’t do the zip line too…

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Before shot…  all geared up and ready to zipline!


a couple of other shots

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relaxing with these folks



monkeys and butterflies

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the trees don’t love the monkeys so much


Lots of time at the beautiful beaches



We got back and went down to California for a visit with Bret’s Dad.  We got some beautiful, but cold weather.

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Then we got to spend a day with these two before heading back to Oregon.

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a couple more picture from Les Machines de l’Ile

When I dropped Bret off in Nantes on a rainy day, I felt bad that he would be stuck there for three weeks while I got to travel around.  Turns out I was really glad to have a few days to explore around there myself.  So many cool things in town… a castle with a serious moat, some underground canals as well as some surface level ones that were nice to explore, an old shipping terminal that had been updated with bars and restaurants, lots of cool art all over the town.  However, Les Machines d l’ile really made the visit there special.  Seriously, this place could not be cooler!  We got to ride the elephant.

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the inside is big enough for stairs


This is the hall where it lives.  It is an old flea market that was converted to the workshop/ museum for the machines.


The museum was worth a visit as well.  I loved that they had ‘specimen labels’ for all the creations.

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I was sad I was too old to ride the carousel.


We are definitely going back to Nantes when the full scale version of this is complete:



Greece with Jim and Debbie!

We had such a fantastic final week of our European Adventure 2015 in Greece with our friends, Jim and Debbie.

Greece is amazing.  The food is delicious and cheap.  Everyone we met spoke at least a little English which made getting around pretty easy.  Except the buses… apparently you have to watch for your bus number coming, then jump out in front of it to get it to actually stop at a designated bus stop.  We did not do that, so we waited for a long time, then eventually took a different bus that someone else got to stop.

We arrived in Greece in the middle of the night and made it to a hotel neat the Piraeus Port.  After sleeping in the next morning, we jumped on an afternoon ferry to Paros Island.  We celebrated with our first Greek beer!


We made to Paros in time to settle into our bunks on the good ship Morpheus before enjoying an incredible dinner right on the water in Paros.  Did I mention that the food was REALLY, REALLY good!  Standard fair included Tzatziki and pita bread, Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, so much seafood, and yummy veggie dishes.  We often went for Gyros when we wanted something quick instead of a big meal. mmmmmmmmm.

Day one, the winds were supposed to pick up and our friend, Jim, was itching to get some kite boarding in.  We dropped Jim off at the kite boarding beach and Bret, Debbie, and I circumnavigated the island of Paros.  We stopped for an incredible lunch in a small, beach town (calamari and octopus) and made it to the mountain town mid-afternoon.  Things tend to shut down in the late afternoon in Paros (then they pick up again in the early evening), so there was not much to see other than views of the ocean.  We cruised back to the kite boarding beach and had evening cocktails on the beach.

Day two, Bret was feeling a little under the weather and the winds were up.  Debbie, Bret, and I again dropped Jim off for some kite surfing and we hopped on the ferry to Antiparos (claim to fame…  Tom Hanks has a house there).  We had a nice lunch in the ferry town, then explored a giant cave.  The cave is apparently home to the oldest stalagmite in Europe!  It has been an attraction since the late 1600s and there are signatures from all sorts of visitors all over the cave.  The oldest date we could find was 1776.

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We made it back to town in time for sunset cocktails.


The next day, the winds were still up and the forecast was looking at more of the same for at least a few more days.  It wood be at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous to try to sail outside of the protected port in Paros.  It looked like our best chance to see another island would be to take a ferry, so Bret and I jumped on a ferry for the island of Ios.  We stayed at a nice hotel in the port town and hiked up to the mountain town for dinner. We stumbled upon the prime sunset watching spot at exactly the right time.


We ate dinner at Sally’s place!


The next day, we hiked over to a really beautiful beach for a morning swim before we caught the afternoon ferry.


We had a long ferry ride back to Paros, but it gave us a chance to see some other islands (and put them on the list of places we need to get back to someday!).  Don’t worry, we made it back into for sunset cocktails!


The weather, stubbornly, remained unchanged for our final two days in the Cyclades.   Luckily, there was plenty to do on Paros to keep us happy.  We even went for a couple of train runs along the coast.  We ate well, and enjoyed a couple more incredible sunsets before heading back to Piraeus on the ferry.

After a long, crowded ferry ride, we had a really nice afternoon in Athens.  We explored the ancient Agora and had great views of the Acropolis and saw lots of torsos.

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There was lots of good and bad graffiti near our hotel.  From our window we could see this homage to both my mother and my niece!


We got our last sunset cocktail on the roof of our hotel… pretty sweet view.

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After another dinner that could not be beat, we flew back to Paris the following morning and started the long journey home.  Pretty nice view of the Alps from the plane though.


We can’t thank Jim and Debbie enough for hosting us on their beautiful sailboat.  Although it would have been real fun to get to sail around on Morpheus… the gods were not on our side.  Or maybe they were, Paros was a pretty nice place to be ‘stuck’ for a week.