France so far!

We arrived in Paris on Saturday.  Although we left Portland and arrived in Paris at similar times, we took different flights.  Bret went through New York City and I went through Minneapolis because Bret’s flight was booked by his employer and I booked the cheapest similar flight I could find.  Luckily, there were no problems.  The widespread availability of wifi makes communication pretty easy these days.

We jumped on the train and headed to our hotel in downtown Paris.  I highly recommend the Hotel Victoria Chatelet.  It is located in the actual Theatre du Chatelet.  It was relatively inexpensive, the staff were so nice, and the location could not be beat.  Just a few minutes to Notre Dame and the Seine.

We were determined to do better with the jetlag on this trip than we did when we arrived in Ireland (it took us about two weeks to adjust), so we really pushed through the exhaustion to stay awake until after 9pm. Our philosophy was to just keep moving…


So we walked all around our neighborhood, ate some food, walked some more, ate some more. We even had some wine with dinner, although we were worried that it would just put us to sleep… when in Paris 🙂

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The next morning, we actually slept later than we expected.  We grabbed some breakfast, then met up with a family friend, Jo Ann.


We had a lovely morning exploring Paris.  We walked along a beautiful greenway on a converted elevated train track.  We went to a market near the Bastille.  Then we got to see Jo Ann’s home, across from an 11th century church that was converted to a science and technology museum (several centuries ago, but I can’t remember the details exactly).

After a lovely lunch with Jo Ann and her family, we were off to explore again.  I have a strange love for boat tours and the day before I had seen a river boat go by with couch seats in all the windows.  I thought that would be a relaxing way to spend the evening.  Bret and I walked down to the Eiffel Tower along the river, but we could not figure out which boat offered such a cruise.  All the ones we found were really packed in with people or included dinner, which we were not interested in.  Eventually, we gave up on the idea and continued to stroll along the Seine.  We made it to the Statue of Liberty on the Ile aux Cygnes.  It is a 35 ft replica of the original commissioned by some Americans living in Paris.  We started making our way back from there.

Here are some pictures of the Eiffel Tower from every angle.

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and some pictures of how I spent most of the afternoon… watching Bret trying to get the perfect shot (I am sure his pictures will be much better than mine when he posts them).

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and then again after dinner…


We were pretty exhausted when we got back to the hotel… according to my watch, we walked around 17 miles through Paris in all that day!

The next morning, we slept late then got some food before we caught the high speed train to Nantes.


Bret will be in Nantes for the next few weeks, working, while I explore France and visit my cousin in Geneva.

First stop for me, Saulieu in the Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan.  This town looked much smaller when I was booking my hotel, but I have enjoyed my stay here so far.

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The area is very rural and is marketed as a mountain biking destination.  I hiked along a mountain biking trail.  Which was mostly a walk on very quiet country roads and rocky, former roads.  It was very nice!

I also found a beautiful wool shop!  The shop keeper keeps her own herd of Angora goats and makes the most beautiful wool and some hand knit scarfs.  I would have loved to buy everything in the store, but I managed to leave with only a few skeins of soft yarn.

Today, I am off to Geneva on the no tolls route… should be interesting!


Bridge pedal and Garden

We have been pretty busy lately despite trying to lay low before our European adventure.  We headed up to Portland for the weekend, last weekend.  On Friday, we went to a Timbers game and stayed with my Aunt and Uncle.  They have a very nice place right on the river which was very convenient.  We also had a very nice visit with them.  On Saturday we briefly caught up with Kas and Peter, then headed to Chris and Channa’s.  We stayed with them, then headed to the Bridge pedal Sunday morning.  The bridge pedal is a 35 mile bike ride where you get to ride over 11 bridges in Portland.  It was very crowded, but fun for the most part.  We made it over 10 but skipped the most popular one because it was so crowded.  This picture was from the first and southern most bridge.


This next picture was from the Fremont bridge which is normally closed to bicycles.  Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jim’s condo is just above Emily’s left ear.


Mid-week last we had a plumbing problem and an abscess show up on Oval about the same time.  A few hours of work got the plumbing problem fixed and a couple of trips to the vet took care of the abscess.


On Thursday night, we bottled our second beer, Mok’s Porter, named after our second favourite pub in Ireland.  Hope it turns out good!


Emily headed to the coast on Friday and bought some Tuna, fresh off a fishing boat, at the dock.  We BBQ’d some Friday night, made tacos Saturday, and canned the rest.  Today we harvested some roma, cherry, and pear tomatoes.  We dried the small ones and made sauce with the romas.




We then took some squash from the garden and made delicious stuffed squash.
Oval has had a buddy over for the last few days, Opie, which has been fun.  Emily got them to play tug-a-war for a while which I’m pretty sure ended in a draw.
A great couple of weeks!



a quick trip to Colorado!

Bret was nice enough to stay home and watch over the garden and the puppy so I could go to Colorado for  a lovely, long weekend!

I got to stay with my good friends, Kirsten and Matt, at their lovely home just under the Flatirons in Boulder.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful hike in Boulder’s open space right from the back door!  Of course, I forgot to take any pictures.

I also got to revisit many of my favorite places and reconnect with fabulous friends that I have not seen in much too long.

The main event was a trail run in Golden Gate State Park.  We had to get up pretty early to get there in time to take a shuttle about 9 miles from the parking area to the race start. Shuttles were supposed to run every half hour from 5:30am to 8am for runners and spectators, but the first shuttle did not show up until 7:15 (the second one never actually showed up)!  Lucky for us, we got there around 7, so we did not have to wait too long for the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus driver was a pretty adorable old man who had no idea were he was going.  Needless to day, the 8am start time for the race was pushed back about 20 minutes to make sure that all the runners were able to get to the start line.

Kirsten and I before the race.


The race itself was really gorgeous!  It was a little crowed right at the start, since it was about a mile of single track with about 100 other 10k runners.

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The first three miles were pretty tough… about 1100 ft uphill!

Blackhawk 10k course

The last three miles were all downhill though, so I was able to take in the scenery and not just concentrate on breathing the oxygen-deficient air.


I took this selfie.


and a second later, did this


oops… probably should pay attention when running on rocky trails!

After the race, Kirsten and I were happy to sit in the shade for a bit and drink our post-race beer.


We were not quite as happy about the long wait for the shuttle bus to get back to the car.  Turns out the adorable old man bus driver got lost between the parking lot and the trail head (one turn).  Luckily, they started loading up suvs and shuttling people back to their cars.

We finally got back to Kirsten’s car around noon!  A bit of a long day for 10k, but it was worth it.  We were still feeling good, so we drove uphill a little further to Avon, Colorado to have lunch with another friend from my colorado days.  It was a super blue sky day, so the drive was really nice.

Sunday, we had a nice lazy day of brunching, lounging in the shade, and swimming in the pool before I had to head back home.

It was, of course, great to get home to these guys (old pics).

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Dad’s Visit

My Dad came to visit and had a pretty busy schedule visiting my Aunts, Grandmother, and us.  I went to pick him up at Grandmas and we got a game of cribbage in.


We had a project to work on as we needed a new hammock stand.  It kept us busy and was a great project for his visit.


Thanks Dad!



On Sunday we we had a barbeque which was a lot of fun and we had a nice visit.



Oval had a buddy named Tonka come over yesterday to hang out.  Good times.


Made some fridge pickles today.  Garden is starting to really produce!


Barrel to Keg

We had another great weekend out in the Oregon summer sunshine.  Saturday we joined a team of seven intrepid (or more likely slightly insane) runners and ran 69 miles across the Oregon Coast Range from the Harris Bridge winery in Philomath to the Rogue Brewery in Newport.


The race is called the Barrel to Keg relay and it is a fundraiser for a local charity, the Community Services Consortium.  They started about 115 teams of runners and walkers, which ranged in size from 1 person to 7 people, in waves between 5am (solo runners) and 9am.  The course is organized into 14 legs that varied in length from about 4 miles to 7 miles.  In theory, they start the slower teams earlier, so everyone ends up at the finish around the same time.  Somehow, we ended up in the second to last wave…  which left a lot of people for us to catch up to.

We had so much fun, that this is the only picture I got all day.  I swear we posed for a picture with the barrel and the keg, but it somehow didn’t make it to my phone.  This was before the start… that is why we all look so happy and clean!  Ed was not in the picture because he did double duty and filled our volunteer spot early on the course, then ran a leg later in the race.


Despite being the person who actually got to assign legs to people on our team, I somehow managed to assign myself to 11 miles with almost 900 ft of climbing.  Clearly I did not take a good look at what I was getting myself into.  Bret ran almost 10 miles too!  It was a HOT, sunny day so the race was quite a challenge.  We went through a lot of water and quite a bit of PBR (energy drink of champions).  Two people on our team ran the longest distance they had ever run in a day… so a lot of accomplishments were accrued.  We finished in about 10.5 hours!

The next day, we were a little sore.  Oval had a lot more energy to burn than any of us, so we took her to the Willamette to run around with her friend Maia.  Her swimming is coming along nicely (she is the big splash right in front of me).  She was even swimming out to fetch balls all on her own!


Needless to say, we all slept pretty well last night.

Decemberists and Garden Update

We had a really nice weekend this past week where we started off by going to see the Decemberists which is one of our favorite bands.

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On Saturday we found a campsite at the base of Mt Hood and hung out in Hood River where there happened to be a kite boarding charity event going on where they were kite boarding for 6 hours straight (in teams).  It was pretty fun watching them and we went for a photo op with oval with mixed results.  We had dinner at probably our favorite brewery in Oregon, Double Mountain Brewery!  Their pizza might have been better than the pizza in Italy…

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The garden has been going pretty good.  Starting to reap the benefits of mostly Emily’s hard work!

Volunteer sunflower
Poblano pepper
Anaheim pepper
Tabasco pepper
Fava beans
Sugar snap peas

Mom’s Visit

My Mom and Rich came to visit over the 4th of July weekend.  We had an action packed fun weekend.  To start off, we toured the college and went to a Corvallis Knights baseball game.   The game started at 7:15 and there was a fireworks show billed after the game and we came ready.  The game went into extra inning and we were still psyched!  Around the 14th inning we got weary, and left after the 15th inning around midnight!  It turns out the game lasted 17 innings and we heard the fireworks go off as we were going to sleep.  A little bummed we missed the end of the game but had a really good time anyway.


We went to a pretty cool antique store in Albany and then went up to Portland to go to Powell’s books and to see Grandma Bosma and Aunt Sharon.  We had a very nice lunch at Grandma’s.  Thanks Grandma!

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Next, we went to the coast and had a very nice day on the beach in Waldport, and got to see a bit of the coastline.  We stopped at the Devil’s Churn and also got to eat at our favorite seafood place on the coast, Luna Sea.

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It was a very nice visit and we all had a great time!

Willie Nelson and Oval’s First Backpacking Trip

Bret took a couple days off and we started the festivities by heading to Bend, Or to see Willie Nelson and Allison Krause with our friends, Chris and Kara.  We had a bit of a delay getting to the concert (we might have lost track of time getting dinner at a nearby pub), but we caught the end of Allison Krause and Willie’s whole set.  The place was packed and it was a gorgeous night.  SO much fun.  Although I may have regretted sharing our neighbors “hot” wine when we started hiking the next morning.

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The next morning we took our leave of Bend and drove to the west side of the Cascades to the Whitewater trailed and hiked up to Jefferson Park.  We had though we would be escaping some of the heat that has landed in Oregon for the last few weeks by heading into the mountains, but it was 91° at the trailhead! It was about 5.5 miles of steady climbing in.  Oval tried out her backpack, but she seemed to be struggling a little in the heat, so I set her free about a mile in.  she perked up at mile 4 when we hit a nice shaded stream and she was able to run around in the water and rehydrate.

For the last half of the hike, we were treated to great views of Mt. Jefferson.  Mt. Jefferson, originally called Seekseekqua by Native Americans, is the second highest mountain in Oregon at 10,497 ft.  The cone of Mt. Jefferson rises about 1 mile from the surrounding terrain (including Jefferson Park) making it very difficult to access.



We camped at Russell lake and had the place pretty much to ourselves the first night.  Well, us and about 10,000 mosquitoes.  We handled the mosquitoes with grace and took a nice walk around the lake.  They don’t seem to bother you when you are moving.  At camp, Oval did pretty well… although we didn’t trust her not to run away to someone else’s camp, so she was on the long leash most of the time.  The second picture is across Russell Lake looking back at our camp site (which is hidden in the trees).

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Oval has the camping thing down.

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The first night, we had some stormy, threatening weather.  But it never amounted to much more than some thunder in the distance, some wind, and a few drops of rain.

On our second day, we hiked around Jefferson Park.  Jefferson Park is this really unique area with lakes and alpine meadows at the base of Mt Jefferson’s cone.  The wildflowers were in full flower power too, so it was pretty spectacular.


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The mosquitoes were again in full force that evening, but we escaped them by teaching Oval how to swim the lake.  She was a little hesitant until we gave her a little push, then she was swimming circles around Bret and I!  so much fun and so many laughs.  Later we went for an evening hike and were treated to more spectacular views.

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That night was clear and warm so we had beautiful view of a moonlit peak from our tent.


The next morning we tried to beat the mosquitoes out of bed and pack up camp.  It was much cooler, so Oval was in charge of her own pack again.

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She did great on the way out… the pack slows her down a notch and makes it easier to keep up with her.  The way down was a lot more pleasant with cooler temps.  We even had a few drops of rain right at the end.


We made it home in time to water the garden and sleep real well.

I am always a little behind, so I will leave our fabulous July 4th weekend with Bret’s mom and stepdad for another post!


strawberries and weird neighbors

It has been a while since I posted, but I have been busy.  Not working much, but busy none the less.

I went and picked strawberries with my friend, German, a few weeks ago.  I forgot to take pictures while we were out at the u- pick farm, but it was a gorgeous, sunny day in the Willamette Valley.  The farm was only a bit out of the way, but they definitely did not seem to be expecting much business on a Friday after a few days of cold and rain.  We were greeted by a big cat, but no humans in sight for a while. We had the berry patch to ourselves and there were tons of huge, beautiful and ripe strawberries.  The farm had a policy of letting you eat a ripe strawberry (no charge) if you toss a dead one out of the patch.  It only took us about 1.5 hours to collect over 11 lbs each!  That doesn’t count the ones we ate (which were a lot…  there were a lot of dead ones) and I was pretty choosy about getting the best of the best since there were so many to choose from.

Here are some pics of the booty.




de-stemmed and cut up


mixed with sugar and vanilla


I let it all mingle for a couple days, then processed it into canned strawberry jam!


Most of the remainders got frozen, but we saved enough for strawberry shortcake that night.



Then, I went on a road trip!!!!!  I went up to Lynnwood, Washington to visit my friends Jes and Matt for a couple days.  They have a great house with big, tall evergreens shading in a lovely back porch.  It was a nice change to sit out on the cool porch in the morning after a stretch of >90° days in Corvallis. We explored the arty, little town nearby called Edmunds and played a lot of Catan and Jes cooked some really delicious food.  It was such a nice time.

I left Lynnwood and took a ferry from Edmunds to Kingston and drove up into the Olympic National Park.  I spent a lot of time on the Olympic Peninsula when I was doing the field work for my masters degree, so it was nice to be back, but just get to be a tourist for the day.  I went for a lovely run on a forest trail.

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Afterwards I drove down to Olympia, Washington to visit my friend, Lauren.  Bret drove up to Olympia with Ed, so we were all reunited for the weekend!

We had a great time tasting the cuisine and delicious northwest beers.  We also explored the Saturday market and went for a walk out at the Woodard Bay Conservation area.  Our first attempt at a walk was thwarted by some breeding birds who apparently wanted some privacy, so the managers closed the trail.  It worked out though because we had a nice walk out to a bay where we saw some seals and read a little about the history of the conservation area.  It was once a log transfer facility owned and operated by Weyerhaeuser, but since it was transferred to state ownership in the late 1980s, the area has been impressively restored.  Also, Bret took this picture:



on to the weird neighbors….

Some background. On one side of our house, the neighbors did not get along with the previous owners of our house.  The previous owners of our house did not wish to assist with the building of a new fence between the two back yards, so the neighbors built their fence 1 foot inside their own property line.  I was told this when I was looking at the house and I did not think too much of it, other than that it was an odd thing to do.  We have some temporary fencing that we use to keep the dog in the back yard despite the 1 foot gap and to keep the deer out of our front garden. We we remove the garden fencing every fall and we asked for permission to put up the temporary fencing (but from the husband).

So, we got home Sunday early in the evening and Bret and I were tending to our garden which was very thirsty.  The wife-neighbor calls over to me and says, we have to talk.  So, I went over and she proceeds to tell me that we have to move the temporary fencing a foot away from her fence.  She then goes on the explain the whole thing about owning a foot beyond the fence line…  She then lets me know that her mother thinks our vegetable garden is pathetic. Then she changes her mind and says it is fine if we leave the temporary fencing where it is, we just have to let people know if we decide to sell the house.  So, I think she really just needed an excuse to let me know that her mother has a much nicer vegetable garden then ours… so weird.  I really had no idea what to do, so I just said thanks about letting us keep the fence.

I have been thinking of theories to explain it.  1.  She may have been drunk.  This is the most likely explanation.  2.  She is a super control freak which explains the whole building her fence 1 foot inside the property line thing.  I can’t think of a better way to have power over your neighbor.   It also kind of makes me want to build another fence 1 foot away from hers.  Not that I am a control freak or anything.

any better theories?