Friday, August 29, 2008

Heads Up

I think my head is still up...
I just spent a couple of hours on the Internet browsing blogs of my friends. I haven't spent much time doing such this month, as the days have flown by for us. 
We returned on Tuesday the 26th from a wonderful camping trip to Central Oregon. I will save this story, as I am preparing for the next adventure of weekend guests. If you must have a preview, my friend at PilgrimAkimbo has a great summary of his perspective of the trip. Also, Bellaartgirl has a photo of us on one of our showerless  camping days...
My house cleaning has been anything but this last month, so for the past few days our family has tried to dig ourselves out of our moving on from one thing to the other. It doesn't look like this lifestyle will slow down much in the near future. I very much have a "live life to the fullest" philosophy, that often leaves me with the title of "Queen of Moving On." I will blog about this sometime, but that comment is so yesterday. 
After one of those early morning wake-ups, I will attempt to make it through the day, without napping, hoping to be prepared for my guests. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No, I Didn't See an Orca

 I know it might be old news, but I had a wonderful vacation with friends at Orcas Island at the beginning of the month. So instead of going into great detail of our vacation, I decided I'd list my top favorites during the week. 

Ferry ride-The ferry ride to Orcas created a wonderful transition from the busy world to the quiet life of the island. I loved that we gathered together chattily catching up, anticipating our week together.
Location-I can't say enough about how beautiful the landscape is on Orcas Island. I didn't do any running, but walked down the road from where we were staying, and  stopped long enough to admire a beautiful farm scene with a old rustic barn, long, waving grasses, with the sun hitting it all in just the right light. Beautiful.
Food-I just had the thought that I didn't really do much cooking during this week-so out of the ordinary for me. I did free the steamed clams from their shells for Paul's Famouser Clam Chowder ( I don't want to infringe on trademark slogans). I was spoiled rotten with our in-house meals-pulled pork sandwiches, Greek lamb, tri-tip steak. The dinner fairy was good to me.
Our meals out as a group included visits to two great restaurants.  We had a great Thai dinner at Thai Sisters Cafe, and ended our last evening out at Lu-Lu's Pasta Rustica. Either restaurant I would send friends to enjoy wonderful dinners. It was also amazing that they could seat all thirteen of us at each place. 
Friends-Spending a week with three families can be challenging, but with such a quality group of folks, the upside of sharing a vacation outweigh the logistics of figuring out the itinerary for the day.
(Notice those young fellows in the garden in their leather skirts.)
Romance- Due to those great friends, Paul and I were able to head into town by ourselves a couple of times. My favorite spot ended up being Kathyrn Taylor Chocolates. It's a fabulous chocolate shop in Eastsound that I absolutely enjoyed (only a couple of chocolates and mochas). The shop was about as big as my living room, with wonderful woodworking, and with the smell of the chocolates (I'm sorry that I don't have scratch and stiff on my blog)!
Nick and Kate-a most unusual encounter with hitchhikers (no Kate, I won't tell your mom). These were the kind of hitchhikers you spend the day with and then invite to dinner. A nice young couple from Brooklyn, and other points on the globe.

Here is some of our group, with Nick and Kate admiring Evander's new tie-dye socks we purchased for the sake of art.

Turtleback Mountain- I had finally stopped sleeping and was ready for some adventure. We went on a group hike on Turtleback Mountain.The majority of the group made it to about where this picture was taken. Five of us continued up and over-over a six mile hike. I'd never hiked that far, and absolutely loved it! Perhaps I'll take up hiking when I retire.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Just A Day at the Beach

I haven't given much of a run-down of our vacation at Orcas Island, but that will come...
This weekend, we hosted my brother, Bob, and his wife Jan for a visit. It started out as an ordinary visit. They came in on Friday evening, we had a meal together at my home, and did some catch-up chatting on our lives and such. We took a walk down the road to pick blackberries, and  had the opportunity to have our neighbor friends meet our guests. 
Saturday morning, we drove across town to Cornucopia for breakfast. We really enjoy their breakfasts, and claim this place to be one of our favorite breakfast spots in town. 
After a leisurely breakfast, we made our way to Florence for the day. The temperature in Eugene was to soar, so we headed for the cool weather. In Florence, the temperatures were in the 60's with some wind, so we didn't plan on swimming at Cleowax. Instead, we first walked around old town. We headed to a coffee shop, where Bob treated us to a coffee. We also had a "celebrity sighting," and I snapped a quick photo of one of the "stars" in our life.  After our foray in town, we then decided on heading to the South Jetty. We were dawdling as we arrived at the jetty.  It was quite windy, and we were getting set for a little walk to the beach, putting on jackets and such.  As we readied ourselves, Van had his scooter out, thinking maybe he could scooter in the gravel, when a small blue car came sliding in on the gravel near him, then peeling out as they left. I was a taken back a bit as I saw this as a stupid teenager being an unsafe driver, disregarding others, and endangering our son.
As we were looking in the direction that the car went, we noticed some smoke billowing from the dunes about a quarter mile away. There were a few of us that made the observation, stating the obvious, "That looks like a fire." It seemed so out of place, with black smoke billowing, and then we began seeing the giant flames.
After the incident with the gravel, and as we were watching the fire, another young man drove up, stating that those teenagers we had just seen, had sent a firework out of their car, having started the fire.  
I called 911 on my phone. The line was busy. When I was able to connect, the dispatcher asked if it was about the fire, and then hung up, after I said, "Yes," but before I said, "but..."  as I was also giving her information about the possible suspects. 
In the meantime, no fire fighters had arrive, and we as a group made a decision to drive out, rather than stay. I'm not convinced that was the wisest choice, but when we decided to go, we made it in the nick of time. The flames became bigger, and moved faster, and Paul made the "Better Go Now" move with the car, as we yelled for him to drive faster.  When we passed the fire which was to the right of us, we felt the heat of the fire through the car. Scary to say the least(In the picture you can see the fire had jumped the road).

With the adrenaline going, and me taking some Mama time to calm the children, we decided to go to the other side of the jetty to watch the fire. We all seemed a bit PTSD from the fire, but really were on to the next event. Uncle Bob set the swinging example, but didn't get a photo of him. It helped release some of the stress of our previous activity.
Again, hard to top that off, but we did end up at Mo's to eat chowder.
The temperature didn't climb as quickly as it did when we drove by the fire, but driving back into Eugene the thermometer rose at least 30 degrees. We were glad to be welcomed to an air-conditioned home. 
So, what do you do with visiting guests after you drive through a fire? 
Well, I served them a tasty, yet uneventful dinner. But the best part of the dinner was Aunt Jan's pie. My camera couldn't do the pie justice, hence no picture. That pie was yummy, yummy. We used the blackberries that we had picked on Friday. "We" as in I observed Jan as she made the pie. In my mind I helped her.
Sunday, we had our regular breakfast for guest fare-including bacon, and my "homemade" twisted pastries. Jan and I enjoyed our breakfast to the "pitter patter" of the rain on the patio. OK, it was loud pouring down rain that interrupted the quiet of our conversation. 
After breakfast, Bob, Jan, Evander and myself headed for Alton Baker for a tour of the park, and a chance for Evander to really ride his scooter. 
Now I wonder how I'm going to top the next guests' visit?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The End

After my run, I was whisked into the van so we could go cheer on our Canadian friend's husband on his last run. But what happened at this exchange point with another team, well, is not "Cub Scout" friendly (I try to keep my blog "G" rated.) All I can say is the Hula-gans outdid their night time cheering section with a stunt involving rip-off pants.
 I can't remember at what point "we" stole the Seamonkey's mascot, a large round monkey looking stuffed animal. I must say "we,"as in my encouragement to commit the crime, I became an accomplice. I believe someone had remarked at the beginning of the race that we should steal it. Now, mind you, we ladies appear to be upstanding commandment abiding citizens, yet it was too tempting not to hold that monkey for ransom.
Mrs. G was all too happy to duct tape it to the the back of the van-with a note, and a remnant from the Hula-gan's shenanigans. 
It took the Seamonkeys a long time to figure that we were the culprits that stole their beloved monkey. Perhaps it was the, "No, we didn't steal your monkey," with Mrs. G's Cheshire Cat grin on her face that led them to believe that. 
It took a reconnaissance team to get their monkey back, but they never did pay the ransom. They said that they didn't negotiate with terrorists. 
(Remember this photo? It has that great foreshadowing that happens only in novels-or cartoons!)

 After our eyes stopped burning from the Hula-Gan's stunt, EK was on a kamikaze mission to get to the showers. Yes, we definitely needed showers, but had to remind EK that is was not at all costs. She ripped up that mountain with such fervor, and sped down that mountain to Bend, like it was imperative that every one of us removed the sweat and dust we had accumulated within the past day. 
For those that still had a sense of humor left after the race, the after party proved fun cheering other teams into the finish. Of course our team ended with a flair of the dramatic as our last runner donned only a mask and American flag shorts. In the end, we won our division, and placed twenty second overall as a team. 
Now that you've read my version of the relay, here is the Bend Bulletin's story (which I honestly was an unnamed source).
Lastly, thanks to our team captain for keeping everything afloat and for being in charge!

Not Done Yet

So I'm to my third leg of the Cascades Lake Relay. The time between the previous leg, and my last leg is somewhat of a blur. If I remember correctly, the temperature seemed somewhat moderate to start, and the route was up, and somewhat down at times. Kinda like life I guess...
The route finally began to head towards Bend, and some bicyclist were passing me as they went up, and then down the mountain. I recall saying something to the effect of, "You've got it easy!"
They didn't appear to think so...
What made this leg different than I thought, is that I thought it was a five something mile run. It's funny what you can think when you are sleep deprived, and running in the heat, at a higher elevation. I had been razzing my new Canadian friend about how she got the primo short run, and I had the much longer run as the ending leg-even though I was older than she. She took my ribbing with grace.
So when I went out for this run, I just planned one putting one foot after the other, and the run taking a bit longer than usual. 
I was soon passed by a high school girl, who startled me as she whizzed by, as I didn't hear her coming from behind. I was overly surprised ( I acted kinda like a chicken does when surprised), as my senses were out of whack. She apologized, and I echoed her "Good job" and she zoomed past me. 
I was getting quite warm, and noticed that about twenty feet down the side of the road was a creek. I had a Bear Grils moment thinking, "Now would be the time to get water."  But no, I skipped the scramble down. I knew my teammates wouldn't appreciate the time it took to do so, and there was an impending danger in such an act.
I continued my run, two other ladies passed me,(I would be considered roadkill to them) yet I continued with my slow but steady pace. My van ladies had stopped to cheer and give me water, EK dumping it on my overheated head (Hooray for Mrs. G's ability to use a spigot). At the last van assist, EK told me I had about a mile to go. I thought she was trying to pull some reverse psychology on me trying to motivate me to go faster (Remember, at this point I had maybe seven hours of sleep in two days). I say, "Do you think I'm stupid?" Not normally the tone I take, but I knew her game! 
So I ran a little farther, not too far behind one of the ladies that passed me (didn't know why she was in such a hurry) when I started to notice that everyone had gather at the end of the hill I was coming down. I thought that they must me cheering on the other's for their last mile. I ran another quarter mile or so thinking that maybe it could be the end. I was down to about an eighth of a mile thinking, "He sure looks ready for the exchange." I did speed up, and slapped that bracelet on him. Quickly turning to my teammates wondering if they had conspired to let him run some of my leg. I wasn't done yet! I had held back thinking my leg was a couple miles longer than it actually was, as it was only 3.9 miles.  It took much convincing that there was no conspiracy to shorten my run. Our team captain said something to the effect of, "I've never heard anyone complain that their run was too short!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good Job

After the run in the dark, at about three something in the morning, we headed for our sleeping area in LaPine. I decided to "sleep" inside the car, as we had about three hours before EK's leg. The younger ladies slept outside, where it hovered above the freezing level. Our three hours of rest turned to two hours, as our Van 2's Silver Fox had run so fast we had to get moving. 
The sun had come up by this time, and EK had a nice long run, while the rest of the ladies in the van began the "Good Job" brigade. We were all quite loopy, and were even forgetting to give our runners water after their run. But that didn't stop Mrs. G from her elequent, encouraging, "Good Job" as we passed the runners. For some reason, her delivery had struck a funny bone in a couple of us ladies and we giggled at every passing. Much better that the laughing gas at the dentist office.
Last week, I watched the movie, "Hancock" and "Good Job" became even funnier than the context of the movie. 
So we giggled our way to our last runs, especially at Mrs. G's "Give it up." Not to be confused with, "Why don't you go ahead and give up because our team is much faster than yours." 
Guess you had to be there. 
But my Cascade Lakes Relay story is not over. More to come.

Mosquito Send-off

On Friday the first, as the sun set and our team was ready to start our next section of the relay, we had to say goodbye to our new friends we had met at Silver Lake-the mosquitoes. We were waiting for the Silver Fox to run in and send EK off into the sunset, then they came out of no where. The swarming mass seemed to enjoy the fact that we had put repellent on, as they were on a different kind of sports adventure. We swatted at the bugs on each other, as we stood waiting at the exchange. We gave a short congratulations to the Silver Fox, who was then quickly surrounded by his adoring mosquito fans. 
So began the darkness.
We followed our runners with the van lights on, often leap frogging ahead or following directly behind so the runner could see what was in the road. Each of the runners faced a rutted, dusty road, and altogether ran about thirty-six miles in the dark.
 The van ride was interesting as EK began her run at my normal bedtime. She was first, and I was to run last. This is where our conversations became, less lucid and more "interesting?" I spent most of this time in the back of the van, attempting to sleep when I wasn't being used as ottoman. 
I wasn't quite conscious enough before the exchange, in that I realized needed to use the powder room  to freshen up right before it was my turn to run. The driver quickly drove me ahead, but our bionic runner made it to the exchange just as I had put on my lip gloss. So I hurried to meet her and out of the light of the giant spotlights into the dark. I quickly realized that I had left my headlamp in the van. I paused for a moment, but new that the ladies would follow shortly after. 
As I began my route on pavement near the Paulina Mountains, all that I could see were the lane lines and the stars above the tree line. 
One step after the other I began a gradual uphill, yet my teammates hadn't followed with the light. I ran a bit faster than normal those first five minutes. I also had a great time of reflection, in that, I had to trust whatever was my story in the road ahead. Was it a pothole? A mountain lion or other wild animal that would end my life's journey? 
I looked at the stars so far away, yet was comforted by knowing that whatever my "fate" on the run, I had to trust the Maker of those stars.
The ladies in the van did catch up to me, and so did the Hulagans. I didn't understand why their van was out there, as they didn't have a runner in sight. At one point their van pulled up ahead, seeming to wait for their runner, but as I passed, they cheered. I said thank you. Then I saw a different kind of moon.
I was taken aback by this tomfoolery, so much so I lost a bit of focus, reminding myself that I should try and find the humor of the situation rather than having my sensibilities offended. 
Shortly after this incident, my van checked in with me, and then said a Hulagan was behind me-fifteen yards. Before I knew it, she passed me going uphill. It seemed I never recovered from that non-celestial greeting. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thru Travel Not Advised

Here's my new Canadian friend before she headed down this very long, hot and dusty road. She ran almost nine miles on this road, whereas I ran a little over the last five it. 
I estimate that she ran during the time of the "Great Badger Showdown." A woman from the Hulagans said a badger chased her down the road. She said that she came down with heat stroke not long after. Must have been the stress of the wildlife encounter. She should have taken a picture of herself.
The story of the chase down is rumored to be so enthralling that a person using a port-a-potty while the woman shared her story right outside the potty, chose to sit and listen to said story rather than exit. People clearly don't get out in the woods enough. 
On this run is where my handy-dandy waist belt came in handy, as I used my water spritzer on this run. At first the sprayer was quite handy, but as I became hotter, all the spritzing I did just made me have to, well, it gave me the "Gotta go right now" urgency. I stopped spritzing and took care of nature's call before the officials' cars came by.
I did receive an encouraging, "Only one mile to go!" from an official gal who was inside her air conditioned Audi. Easy for her to say. The official guy in the other car reminded me of those sweepers when I did the Nike run-good looking guys pointing the old lady the way to the end. He asked, "You alright?" Of course I huffed, "Yes." I didn't ask, "Would you be alright if you were out here?"
I ran leg six, finishing the run at the 85 degree mark. My experience was that the farther I ran up the road, the less the trees attempted to provide shade. I saw no mirages, but I was happy to have done the training I did on those very hot days in Eugene. I felt this training helped me know I could handle the heat. I hadn't trained on such a running surface, but I kept my slow but steady pace. I did wear my Garmin watch, and it said that I ran hundreds of miles. I forgot to turn it off at the end of my run. So, I couldn't tell my pace and I couldn't tell if the elevation slowed me down.
I would like to say I enjoyed the beauty of this particular leg, but I just recognized that it was hot and I needed to put one foot in front of the other.  I did appreciate my peeps with the water and woo-hoos, and for fixing my iPod when I floundered with it at the start of my run.  

Here is the team at the Silver Lake rest area. I tried to sleep but became enthralled with a couple that were singing in the park. I love bluegrass, old time country, and folk music. Although my teammates may have found them annoying while they were trying to sleep, I loved the interruption.
Matt and Rachel Wilson of Silver Lake Oregon

So It Began

This photo doesn't look like much to the non-participant's eye, but this photo has race historic significance. These people aren't just standing around.  This was the beginning of the race, and the beginning of the friendly rivalry amongst these three teams.  This is a photo of our team along with the Sea Monkeys and the Hulagans. The Sea Monkeys have just attached their precious mascot to their car. Notice that our blond friend seems to be mesmerized by the monkey. More later on the significance of the photo...
So at the end of the first leg of the race, a new friend and I were bonding by the information kiosk, while my old buddy EK was kickin' it in up mountain. EK took on quite a bit of mileage this race, and did wonderfully. We had a great time in the van together, and she only made me spew out my water once while I was in a post race delirium

And So the Story of Van One, Leg Six Begins...

 The adventure of the Cascade Lakes Relay started the evening of Thursday July31st. Our welcoming sign at the Ray's in LaPine Oregon confirmed that this event was really happening. If I recall correctly, this is where we called ourselves, "Sports Adventurers." Perhaps this gave us a reason why we had uprooted ourselves from our home and families.  
The story goes something like this...
After picking up one of our runners in Black Butte, we ate our first meal together in Sisters at Martolli's Pizza. The ladies of "True Grit Natives" then met up with the men of our team as we spent the night in cabins on Lemolo Lake
Our team's start time was at 8:30A, needing to be there an hour before the start for "check-in," leaving us with a wake-up time of 6:00AM. Not too early of a time, if it weren't for not sleeping well the night before. When I did sleep, my anxiety about the race and fear of injury lead me to dream, or think that I was going into renal failure. Although this condition would have rendered me unable to compete in the relay, I had to convince myself it was only a dream. 

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nancy's Sleeping

It was a week ago that I set off to compete in the Cascade Lakes Relay. Time flys. I will post about the race, but for now I'm catching up. It seems like I spend time either catching up, or moving on...I'm on Orcas Island right now, and only a few spots have wireless internet. This is the first day I have attempted to write a post so here goes...
A few other runners and myself drove back from Bend on Saturday evening, still exhausted from the race. We ended up having the Canadian contingent of the team stay over at our house. I wasn't able to be as hospitable as I would like, as we were to leave for Washington bright and early on Sunday.
 The third of August, our family headed north to Orcas Island, Washington to vacation with friends for a week of respite on the water. During our travel north, I was rather short with my family, and out of sorts when we left home, as our goal was to catch the 2:45PM ferry to Orcas Island. I let our Canadian friends know they could stay as long as they liked. I think I actually gave them our house. 
I slept, and grumped all the way north, making it to the ferry, as we were one of the last cars on board. We met up with our friends, and I had to make the transition between exhausted sports adventurer to "Travelin' Nan."
I spent the first couple of days at Orcas eating and sleeping. If I remember Monday at all, it went something like: Sleep in. Eat. Take a nap. Eat. Go to bed. Not a great vacation companion, but I did start waking up on Tuesday.
The joke around the house was a quote from our friend Silas, "Nancy's sleeping. Nancy's sleeping like tractor at Fernwood School."