Saturday, October 31, 2009

What We Do About Halloween

With the way we eat, Halloween can be a challenge. And it's not only us, although that's my first priory, I'll admit, but also the whole culture of Halloween and candy that I'd like to see change. I wouldn't mind a few pieces of candy one night a year, but that's not really what Halloween is all about, is it?

Davan really loves dressing up. She spends a lot of time planning and making her costume, usually with her dad's help.

It's not a holiday we're just going to skip. And, what is the point of dressing up if you don't show it off to people? Trick or treating, in Davan's book, is the best way to do that. She loves going to houses to show off her costume and she loves people coming to our house and handing stuff out. I don't like giving out a lot of candy, which I truly think is detrimental to health and which I don't really want in our house with the temptation it provides (for me it's sort of like putting an alcoholic in a house with lots of type of alcohol). We've gone the little toy route, but I'm not overly thrilled with that idea, either, as most of that ends up in the landfill, either unused or lightly used. Little cheap toys are junk. Gee, ya think? So, what to do?

We've also, for the past few years, done take and bake pizza on Halloween. It's easy and fast for a busy night. My parents usually join us and we get one usual pizza - cheese, Canadian bacon and olives - and one veggie pizza no cheese. This year, however, is going to be different. Anthony and I are in the midst of our four week challenge and he, especially, can't stay on plan with pizza. The veggie no cheese would be okay, but he does not care for most of the veggies on pizza. So, what to do?

Well, after some consideration, I've come up with a good solution for dinner. This year we Davan will only be trick or treating in the neighborhood, as opposed to also going to the businesses in downtown Gresham, which she's done other years, but decided last year was too crowed and not much fun. That frees up our day a little, although I could probably do this plan anyway.

We're having mixed mashed sweet potatoes and yams in pumpkin shapes. There will be olives for the faces of the jack-o-lanterns and lightly steamed broccoli for the stems and grass that the pumpkins will be sitting on. There will be lightly steamed cauliflower moons on each plate, as well. Davan is wild for this sort of thing, so she should be appeased about not "eating out." In addition, we'll pop popcorn later in the evening and share homemade candy both that I've made and that my mom is bringing. These candies aren't the healthiest things in the world, but they are a huge step up from traditional candy. The two varieties I've made are "Whatchamacalit" style, made with ground walnuts, dates, raw chocolate powder, a little cinnamon, a little vanilla and a sprouted multigrain cereal that has a lot in common with Grapenuts, and "Peanut Butter Cup" style, made with natural peanut butter, a bit of vanilla, a little agave nectar and vegan, grain-sweetened chocolate chips.

As for what to hand out. Well, we have a few trashy toys from a previous year. I picked up 10 small gourds for a buck at our local produce stand. These will all be in the offerings. Then, Davan will go trick or treating. Now, Davan doesn't care about the candy (especially with the alternatives we have at home) and last year she attempted to trick or treat for UNICEF. Apparently, most people are not familiar with that concept anymore because, after explaining herself at several different houses (why she was asking for money, not candy), she got fed up and gave up. This year, she's priming a few houses with pamphlets prior to going, but then she's just going to do some regular trick or treating. The plan is to just hand her haul back out. I don't think this is a great solution to the issue, but it'll work for this year. As with other years, any leftover candy will be sent to work with Anthony, where his co-workers will happy consume it. Again, though, it's perpetuating the whole eat-a-lot-of-candy-because-it's-Halloween thing, but we haven't come up with a better solution to the issue yet.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of dinner (hopefully it's cute - fingers crossed) and Davan's completed costume. Can you guess from the above picture what she it is going to be?

Book Review: House of Daughters by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Yesterday was another day of mostly taking it easy. We did ride over to the local produce stand to pick up our Halloween pumpkins (yes, a little late this year - oh well) and, of course, there were chores and the regular meal preparing duties in the kitchen, but, other than that, I had a lot more reading time, which is great because, yeah, I'm still a little under the weather. Davan, who is still having a whole nasty nose issue, but is feeling pretty well, is still happy to be taking it easy, too. Thus, I finished another book.

House of Daughters, after a slow start, was a welcome light and easy read that had me wanting to read more whenever it was time to put it down. It is the story of the inheritance between three daughters of a Champagne vineyard.

The twist, because, of course there is one, is that one of the sisters has lived and worked on the vineyard her whole life. Her younger half sister and she despise one another and neither even knows about the third half sister. They all have reasons for coming to live on the farm and, thus, have to work through their differences.

After reading two books, Dogs and The Serpent's Shadow, with some, shall we say, unpleasantness, it was nice to have a book to read that didn't go down those paths. I enjoyed the evolution of the sisters and the (fairly predictable, it must be said) conclusion of their struggles, interspersed with humor. On that 1 to 10 scale, I'd give it a 7.

Still feeling rather blah and with the off and on rain outside, I foresee another day of reading and tea drinking. With my trip to the farmer's market (the last one of the season here - sob!) done and dinner planned, I've got some time.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review: The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

Not only has Davan been sick this week, but I've been feeling under the weather some, too. As a result, we've had several at home days with lots of time for reading, both together and individually. Yesterday, I finished up with The Serpent's Shadow.

When I was in my early 20s, I really loved Mercedes Lackey's books. I particularly liked the Heralds of Valdemar series. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I may get those to read with Davan. (As an aside, though, you may want to be careful about giving Lackey's books to a young person without checking them out yourself. There is some amount of unpleasantness from time to time and, if it concerns you or your young one, also some romantic encounters, which are not limited to those of opposite sex.) I continued to enjoy her books off and on, but mostly off these days. A few days ago while looking for another book at the library, I saw this one by her and picked it up on a whim.

Overall, I found the book to be okay. I didn't feel compelled to spend a lot of time reading, which is too bad because it would have been a good time to be really into a book, but I certainly wasn't avoiding reading, as has happened with some books, at which point I know it's time to give up on it.

The setting is London around...oh, well, here you'll see I'm awful with my history times...but when motor cars are just starting to replace horse drawn carriages, women are fighting for the right to vote and England is occupying India. Maya Witherspoon is a young female doctor (which is unusual for the times), as well as being of mixed heritage (dad is English, mom is Indian) and is forced to flee to London from her native India after her parents die and she suspects that she is in danger. Magic is interwoven with mundane life and, over the course of the book, Maya learns about the difference between Indian and English magic, which is her source of magic, and who her enemy is.

I found the characters to be okay and the plot to be fairly formulaic (I knew just when the love interest was due to show up, for example). I really didn't enjoy the chapters that were from the point of view of the villain, who was up to some unpleasant things. (Goodness between Dogs and The Serpent's Shadow, both of which were fairly mild about horror, but enough so that I was turned off a bit, I'm sure ready for a more sunny read.)

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being so bad a book that I didn't finish and 10 being one of the best books I've read/I just couldn't put it down, I'd give The Serpent's Shadow about a 6.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

These Books May Save your Life

I'll fess up right here that I have strong feelings about food and health. I believe that food and health are directly related and that food is the most important indicator of health, over exercise or anything thing else.

I am not always perfect in what I eat, although I do pretty darn well, I must say, at staying in accordance with my beliefs about what is healthy. And what is healthy food? Well, my friends, it pretty simple really. You should eat plant based foods in the form closest to how it's grown (Bulgar wheat is better than whole wheat bread which is better than white bread, for example) and you should limit fat and sugar. Foods from animals (meat, dairy, eggs) are not health food no matter if it's the egg white or salmon you're eating. The research is clear on this. It's not a gray area.

Prove it to me, you say? Well many authors/doctors have written books just to do that. Read them and really think about what they say. It makes sense. It's proven.

The first book I read that opened my eyes was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It's a great book with lots of good information. It's also a weight loss book and can be a little extreme because of that. It might not be the best for a first book unless you're really motivated.

If you have a family, kids in particular, who's health you care about, check out Fuhrman's Disease-Proof your Child. It's great for kids who are still growing and has some good information for athletes who want to build muscle, as well, all while maintaining a healthy diet.

Fuhrman has also come out with a new set of books called Eat for Health with all the same information about nutrition that you can find in Eat to Live, but with a more gradual plan to follow, making it a good choice if all of this is new to you.

I own all three of the above books and, if you live locally and promise to return them, I'm happy to lend them to you. Be advised, though, I don't love Fuhrman's recipes with a few exceptions. Learn about food here, then go find other recipes or adapt ones you like. One good place to find recipes is here - Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. Be warned, though, that not all of her recipes are truly fat free and some have sugar. All that I've tried are very good, though!

But, wait! Fuhrman isn't the only one! Many other doctors are all about health through diet and they say mostly the same things.

Check out Dr. John McDougall. If you like your carbs, this is the man for you. He has a great number of books and cookbooks. The McDougall Program is a good place to start.

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn ran an amazing study on a group of patients who's cardiologists said no more could be done for them and it was, more or less, time to wait to die. If you're primarily concerned about heart health, this is the book for you. Of course, following any of these food plans (they are all based on the same principles and research!) will help your heart health as well as fight cancer, diabetes and all of those lifestyle diseases. Dr. Esselstyn's book is called Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Next up is Dr. Esselstyn's son, whom you may have heard of. He has been around lately on morning shows, in the news and on the radio. His name is Rip Esselstyn and he's a fire fighter/ex pro triathlete in Austin, TX where he convinced his whole crew to go veg. The results are amazing. His book is an easy read with familiar recipes. It's called The Engine 2 Diet.

Now, Rip's book isn't the best for the science behind this style of eating. I'm reluctant to call it a diet because it shouldn't be. A diet is perceived as the way you eat when you're trying to loose weight and is considered a temporary measure. We eat this way all the time (with some falling off the wagon, to be sure), but it's not a diet. It's how you should eat just all the time.

Back to the science, though. A great book for the science of it all is The China Study by Dr. T. Collin Campbell. While some of the book is based on the China study, there are more studies and research to back it all up. Check it out. I recommend this one particularly for those who are interested in cancer.

Speaking of cancer and all of those other lifestyle diseases, there is a man who's practically written a book about each. Dr. Neal Barnard is consistent about how you should be eating (because it's all the same!), but he has a book to address your particular concern. Check out these titles: Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes, Breaking the Food Seduction, The Cancer Survivor's Guide, Turn off the Fat Genes, Foods that Fight Pain, Eat Right, Live Longer, Food for Life, A Physician's Slimming Guide, and The Power of your Plate.

There are more out there, too. Why don't you know about this? Why doesn't everyone know how to fight cancer, diabetes and heart disease? Because there's no money in it. How can that be? Knowing how not to get cancer should be a great money maker, right? Well, only if there is something marketable. Only if there is a pill, a treatment, something you pay for. This is free. You just change your food. Not only is it free, but it's going against the grain of where the money is - dairy, fast food, meat - people with powerful lobbies. You have to find it for yourself. And you can. Just go check out one of these books. Get started on the path. You have the power.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poor Davan

Little Miss Davan is sick. Poor kid. She doesn't get sick a whole lot and she really hates being sick. She had to miss Do Jump last night, which caused tears, although it was ultimately her decision.

She'd spent the night at my parent's house the night before last and sent me an email Tuesday morning saying, "I think I'm sick." I called to see if she needed to come home, but she didn't want to and my parents were okay with her being there. We decided to continue with our plans anyway.

We all met at the art museum in the afternoon, then went to get a bite to eat. By the time we were done with the art museum, it was clear that Davan was dragging even with that little bit of strolling around. She'd also fallen asleep in the car on the way to the museum and was constantly wiping up her drippy nose. We still ate out, but then we came home where she laid down on the couch for the rest of the evening.

This morning she's missing her preschool reading, which makes her sad, as well. She loves going to read to and play with those kids, but keeping her germs to herself is a good idea.

As for me? I'm fine! Perfectly healthy here! (I've heard that positive thinking helps a lot...we'll just ignore the fact that I've got that stuffy sinus feel, a tickle in my throat and felt punky enough that I didn't go ride this morning...I'm fine!) Mantra: I'm healthy and have a strong immune system. Say it with me now!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Testing, Testing

To comply with homeschool law here in Oregon, you must let your local Education Service District know that you intend to homeschool your child in the year that your child is 7 in the fall. Prior to 7 years old, attending school is not mandatory, regardless of the habitual sending off of children to school at 5, or, often, younger for preschool with worries that a child, upon hitting 5 and going off to kindergarten, will not know how to stand in line like the other kindergartners.

At any rate, after notifying the local ESD, the next requirement to stay within the law (which, as an aside, many choose not to do), is to test. Now, if your child has issues, ranging from ADHD or test anxiety to being autistic or, say, blind, you don't have to test your child. Instead, you develop something similar to a school's IDP and you report on your child's progress on that plan instead. You and your child need some supervision for this, of course, someone to objectively say your child is working on the set goals. This can range from an occupational therapist to a teacher to a fellow homeschooler.

Say, though, that you choose to test rather than go through the alternative hoop. In this case, you have to have your child tested, using a nationally accredited test, such as the CAT, as opposed to the test being used to test your neighbor's children in school, ahem, in her third graded, fifth grade, eighth grade and tenth grade years. To pass, your child must score at least above the 15th percentile. If she doesn't, then she has to retest the next year to show progress. If there is no progress, your child might be required to attend school. Davan, who would be in sixth grade were she in public school, has now been tested twice.

We are unschoolers. Not only do we not follow any curriculum, all encompassing or pieced together, but I do not assign her any work at all. Davan spends her days, after chores, basically filling her time as she likes. This isn't to say that there isn't any enrichment, because that would be far from true. We have a house filled with books on rotation from the library, both in traditional and audio form, monthly delivery of much anticipated magazines, games to play. There is a well stocked art supply cabinet, a laptop used for writing exclusively in Davan's room, a computer with internet access in the dinning room, adults with whom to have conversations, friends to play with, museums that are regularly visited, pets in need of care, children at the local preschool to be read to once a month, book groups, Do Jump classes and lots of being out in nature.

This worries a lot of people. How will she learn? She's not doing any worksheets. (Okay, sometimes she does do workbooks because sometimes she gets into them.) There are no math books. (Well, that's not totally true, there are books with math in them and even actual text books around, although those are mostly calculus...but nothing one would think of as her math book.) You don't give her lists of words to memorize the spelling and meaning of. (Reading a lot, of course doesn't count.) Reports aren't assigned. (But are still written, amazingly enough to me. Just this month I've been treated to a report, complete with diagrams, on how to increase bike commuting while decreasing cars on the road and another, to be copied and distributed to neighbors on UNICEF to prepare them for her Halloween plans.) This means no education!

Let me let you in on a little secret of mine. While I'm against testing on principle (homeschool parents know how their kids are doing most of the time, it's really non of the government's business, and homeschoolers do notoriously well, so why bother?), I kind of like seeing Davan's test results. They don't surprise me, really, but it's nice to have them for ammunition against the doubters.

We never prepare. Before the first test, I did show Davan how a separate question sheet with bubble answers works. It wasn't a difficult concept. Before the one just this summer, I asked if she wanted a test prep book. She did, but only had two days with it before we had to test, so she just read the part in the beginning addressed to parents. Still, she's done very well each time.

She scored in the 92nd percentile in third grade and in the 99th percentile for fifth grade just this summer. Overall and in many of the individual sections, she scored "above high school level." In mathematical computation, she was at grade level with 49th percentile, her low score. My mom was so thrilled to learn this that she took Davan's results, scanned them in and sent them out to all her friends and our family.

Having told Davan before that the test doesn't really mean anything to help calm her nerves and because I really believe it, I've managed to keep a more even keel about it. It can't be helped that I'm pleased, though. It's nice to have vindication about our chosen course when not all have thought it the best.

So, yeah, let's do away with testing. But, let's also do away with the people who feel the need to quiz homeschooled children about their facts and people who don't really think they'll learn. If we can't do away with all that, then let's keep showing them what sorts of results unschooling can get. Without teaching to the test, thank you very much.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Dogs by Nancy Kress

We do a lot of reading around here. Typically, I've got five books going at a time. There's the book I read to myself, the book I listen to myself, the book I listen to in the car with Davan, the book I read aloud to Davan and the family book that we all read aloud together, in turns. My reading interests span from childrens' books to Science Fiction to nutrition and lots in between. Just last night, I finished Dogs by Nancy Kress.

I've read quite a lot of Nancy's work, which is mostly Science Fiction. She's also written a fair number of how to write books, but I can't say I've read any of those. I've enjoyed everything I've read by her.

Dogs, which I still liked, was one of my least favorites. The story is about a town where dogs start attacking people. These dogs are people's beloved pets and most were very tame before suddenly turning on their owners and any other people they might come across. This is why it's not a favorite of mine. The dog attacks are not fun to read and I'm not really into gruesome. It has a real Cujo feel in parts. While I did have a bought of interest in Stephen King as a preteen, I'm no longer into horror.

That said, the book kept my interest enough so that I stayed up a little late reading over a couple of night's. The main characters, Tessa, an ex FBI agent new to the town, and Jess, the dog handler for the town, are engaging. The story is told from several points of view, which I don't always like, but was well done here.

Through the story, we track not only what's happening with the dog attacks, but also what's being done to try to find a cure, to contain the threat and to find out where it came from. Is it a terrorist threat?

Dogs is a fairly quick read with 280 pages. If you're a Nancy Kress fan, but haven't found her non Science Fiction books or if you are into suspense with a little mild horror, I'd recommend Dogs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Best "Ride" This Week

With all the riding (hiking counts, as well, thus the quotes) I'm trying to do over our four week challenge, I thought it would be fun to put some thought into what my best ride was at the end of the week.

This week my best ride was probably my first ride of the week. It was slow to get started. Anthony, Davan and I were supposed to do Anthony's favorite ride, a 34 mile ride with plenty of ups and downs in and out of the Sandy River basin. However, Sunday dawned cloudy with wet roads and a forecast for rain at 9:00.

I was up for just going, but Anthony had a bit of a cold and, it came out later, really just didn't feel into it. Davan woke up and came out with a frown, saying that her legs felt kind of week. I felt rather betrayed! We were supposed to ride! I wanted to go for a real ride on my new bike! Anthony, at the time, said, "After breakfast."

When breakfast was over and he hit the couch instead, I took maters into my own hands and, after checking to see if Davan wanted to go, went by myself. By this time, after our late breakfast and a little bit of yard work, it was afternoon. The day was lovely, but definitely a crisp fall day. Long tights and a jacket were in order.

I went with Anthony's Garmin bike computer to help me find my way. I'd planned on taking trip notes on a piece of paper, but Anthony set me up with the Garmin and it was pretty awesome. No fumbling with notes no concerns over if I'd missed my turn. Nice gadget.

I love, love, love Sassy. She's my new bike. You can tell I love her because I named her. I'm not overly big on naming things usually! She was fun and comfortable to ride. Of course, I still had to work on the hills, but I felt much faster overall than the last time I'd done the ride on my touring bike.

The fall colors were great, the traffic was light and I was very glad I'd gotten out there. Because I was riding by myself, I listened to my book on tape while riding, which, while some would frown upon it thinking it dangerous, is one of my favorite ways to ride/walk/run/do chores. I keep it pretty low volume wise and never have a problem with not hearing traffic, so I feel pretty confident about using it.

The whole shebang took me less than three hours and I was home in time to pick up Anthony and Davan for a short, flat family ride before our evening engagement. Great ride. Now I'm feeling motivated to get out there today. It's another sunny, crisp fall afternoon. I think I may have company rather than my MP3 player, though, as Anthony has been itching for a ride, as well. Perhaps my best ride of the week will have been posted too soon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Luck, Money and Choices

Let me start off by saying that we're lucky to have enough money. We can pay the mortgage (even though it's about half of our monthly income - yikes!), we can eat mostly good, healthy food (although we don't do organic much due to cost) , we can go on vacation (often very economical vacations, but occasionally a more expensive, to us, one), we have enough clothes, we can buy some things that we want (although we generally have to save up for them), and we can do many of the activities we'd like to do (definitely not all, though).

My point, though, is that we do have to make choices. We don't have enough money to just buy any 'ol thing we would like. We have wish lists and we save. We can't do any 'ol big vacation when we'd like. We makes lists of what we'd like to do and choose carefully. We can't do every activity we'd like to do. Davan would do more Do Jump, gymnastics, dance, piano lessons, and art lessons if she could, while I'd continue with Do Jump (I'm thinking I may quit because of money), do yoga and some sort of martial arts. We'd all have unlimited ski passes every year. We can't have a big (or even really decent sized) house in the neighborhood we'd really like to live in. We rarely eat out. We have one car and are mindful of how much gas we buy for it. We keep our house much cooler than most people's in the winter and don't have AC for the summer at all. Several of the more expensive food items are only purchased as treats. I pretty much get all my clothes from Goodwill. Davan gets one present for birthdays and one for Christmas. Often it's an experience rather than a physical item.

So, here we are, making our choices, like everyone does. Some people choose to drive everywhere in their two or more cars, eat out a lot, send their kids to private school and every evening "enrichment" activity possible and fill their curb side trash can every week. Those are their choices. What I don't want to hear from those people, though, is how lucky I am to get to stay home with Davan.

Don't get me wrong. I am lucky. I'm lucky to be married to a husband who is a dedicated family man and who is convinced that having a stay at home person is a good choice. I'm lucky to get the experience of bringing up our daughter and getting to spend time with her (at least most of the time that seems lucky...other times it seems like Anthony is the lucky one). I'm lucky to have parents who support us in our choices both emotionally and, when they are able (which isn't right now), a little bit financially.

But, wait. My whole point is that isn't luck. I chose Anthony. He chose me. I didn't chose someone more interested in partying/consuming/whatever. We chose to have me stay home with Davan, giving up a substantial income (my education is in engineering). We chose every day to spend within our means. It's a choice.

I may feel lucky because of these choices. Others may also think I'm lucky (except maybe those who really don't like to be with their kids anyway, which seems like a lot of people, really). The truth is, though, that we make our own luck. If you think that what I have is lucky, then make it happen in your family. If you think it's lucky to have a big house and two or more cars, go for it. Each of us are trapped more by our choices than by our luck.

So, go forth, realize that every time you're spending money you're making choices and good luck to you!

Stuff to Post About

Having finished my trip odyssey, I'm now, once again, feeling the lack of things to post. Hmmm. The thing is that I keep a shared journal with my best friend, so I find that a lot of my little, day to day, things, I'm already writing about. Besides, do people really care about my life details? This is what lead to a hiatus from posting in the first place.

That said, I do enjoy the process of it. I like writing. I like writing for an audience. I like seeing that people have come to look at what I've written. I love comments, even though I'm horrible about leaving comments on the blogs I read! So, I'm going to try to post semi-regularly. It isn't likely to be daily, but I will try to keep the blog alive. So, stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Was Not Going to Ride This Morning

I was feeling pretty tired last night. I'd wanted to do some strength work last night, but I was feeling a bit run down and I was really into my book and when I got up to do a little, starting with active stretching, I just wasn't feeling the love. I realized I'd ridden or hiked every single day for something like two weeks. I decided I'd take a rest day today. I'd get up and do a little yoga instead.

However, I got up this morning and it was not windy and not raining and I was feeling pretty good, so I went riding anyway. I just did an easy 10 miles on the Springwater Corridor, which is nice and flat. It felt good and I'm glad I went. Even though I wasn't going to ride today.

Maybe tomorrow I won't ride. It is supposed to be raining...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

We feel like we're pretty busy most of the time. However, I'm realizing that, at least this school year, we're not very busy.

Even though we're homeschoolers, there are so many activities that are tied to the school year that we mark our time by school years, as well. For example, Do Jump classes happen over the three school terms with breaks. Swimming, which we're not participating in this year and is one of the reasons we're not very busy, only happens during the school year, at least that's the case for our local homeschool swim lessons.

Over the summer, I'd started organizing field trips for Davan and some of her friends. As I don't have other children and we have a seven passenger vehicle, it makes sense to take her and her friends various places. We went to Oak's Park (a small amusement park), a lake to swim, the Ape Caves (lava tubes - very cool!), and Safari Sam's (an indoor jungle gym). In and around these trips, we also camped, did our bike trip, hosted two Korean exchange students for three weeks and various other life activities.

Each trip went well and the girls seemed really happy to go. Parents seemed happy to let them go. Davan was happy because she was getting to see her friends and do fun stuff.

When the fall came and swimming started up, which, prior to this year and Davan opting not to swim, was where we saw most of the girls that were going on the trips, we didn't fret about Davan not swimming because we figured we'd continue the trips and she'd get to see those girls pretty regularly still. Of course, there are some playdates and such, but, as Davan pointed out, when there was a field trip scheduled, more people were likely to make it happen.

This, however, has not been the case. I've tried a couple of times to get a trip together, but everyone is too darn busy! We've had to accept that we won't be field tripping until some of the regular activities are on break. Davan is bummed about this, but hopeful that playdates will still happen.

Me, too. At least, I'm hopeful. I'm not holding by breath, though. Everyone is very busy. Sigh.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I Did Yesterday

I spent yesterday riding a lot. This, from what you've read here may not sound unusual, but, in this case, it was. I did a short 10 mile ride first thing in the morning, then had breakfast with my family and hung out a bit. Then we went on down to River City Bicycles.

You see, we sold the tandem that Davan and I used to ride together. Now that she rides her own bike, she much prefers it to the tandem and I much prefer to ride my single myself, so that works out. Thus, we sold the Black Bomber. I also sold my old mountain bike. I don't do mountain bike riding, but had been using my mountain bike for my around town/touring bike previous to buying a touring specific bike for our bike trip.

Lately, on family rides, I've noticed a problem. If there are hills, I have to take my touring bike. What with it's more comfort than speed geometry, rack and fenders, it's not a speedy mount in comparison to Anthony and Davan's Giants, which are both road bike specific bikes. Anthony's, of course, being a much better model than Davan's, which is very much appropriate for now. I get left behind on even the slightest of inclines.

If we go on rides where it's relatively flat, I can take my 1992 road bike. For those of you who don't know, if serious, even serious recreational riders, that's an old, old bike. It served me okay in that time, especially after Anthony upgraded my shifters for me from down tube shifters to break lever shifters. However, it's major draw back is that it lacks a granny gear or anything remotely resembling a granny gear in terms of modern bikes.

So, we decided that the money from the tandem and my mountain bike should go toward a new bike for me. I'd wanted find one along the lines of the killer deal (Craig's List, hardly used, way undervalued) we got for Davan at first. Her's is a decent, entry level road bike and serves her well. However...well, I started test riding at River City. I also did test rides at Hike 'n Bike. What I discovered is that I wouldn't be happy with Davan's bike.

The main reason for this is the type of shifters. She has thumb shifters, which means she can't shift from the drops (for those who know what that means). However, the Giants just weren't my favorite ride, even the more expensive ones.

I tried seven different bikes, taking one out three different times and another out twice. Each time I went out, I did about 2 1/2 miles, including a decent climb each time, wanting to really get a feel for each bike. Anthony, who was very patient and supportive and vary laid back about spending so much time standing around bike shops when he wasn't feeling real well, and I spent over six hours looking at and test riding (just me on that one) bikes, with a short break to sit in the van and eat the lunch I'd packed. Davan, luckily, had been invited over to my parent's house for the afternoon and to spend the night, so she didn't have to endure the bike shopping marathon.

Honestly, at the beginning of the day, I wasn't expecting to buy. I figured we'd find what I liked and then wait for a killer deal either because the last of the sizes were being sold out from the previous year or because we'd pick up a gently used one.

However, I fell in love. And it was a killer deal. Sadly, even with it being a killer deal, it was significantly more money than I had to work with, especially once I changed out the saddle because the one it came with was like sitting on a brick to me - by far the worst of the saddles on all the bikes I tried. Anthony and I talked it over and, even though he felt a little bit slighted about it because he's been saving for his new bike, we decided that the difference in price would be my birthday present. My birthday is next month, but who's counting? (Okay, yes, I feel a little bad about how much we spent. Maybe it'll make me feel guilty if I don't go out and ride a whole bunch and maybe that's not such a bad thing.)

I'm really pleased with my bike. It's pretty, responsive, shifts smoothly and accurately and is a smooth ride. I got a Cannondale 6.3.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Knee

I stopped talking a lot about my knee on my day by day accounting, but it continued to be an issue. My poor left knee hurt the whole trip, sometimes keeping me up or waking me up at night, but mostly just when I rode. For the whole trip, I took Advil with breakfast and lunch to help take the edge off (that was all it did) and, by the end, took it with dinner, as well. I didn't want to be overdoing the Advil, but it was hurting and warm to the touch, so it needed to happen.

We got back on Friday, just did the 3 mile round trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, then took a recovery ride on Sunday. On Sunday, I rode my road bike rather than my touring bike. It was remarkable how much higher my saddle was and how comfortable that felt. We moved the seat up on my touring bike. Low and behold, my knee stopped hurting when I was riding. Why didn't we check that out sooner?

My knee continued to be painful off the bike when doing certain things - some stretches, tucking one leg under the other when sitting, if I couldn't put my feet flat on the floor when sitting in a chair, that sort of thing - but was well on it's way to recovery.

The Harvest Century ride last Saturday caused it to flare up again starting at about mile 40, but it's settling back down quickly this time. It's still not totally right, but it's pretty close.

I'm sad that we didn't figure it out earlier and that it caused me pain the whole trip, but I'm still really glad I pushed on and did it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Aftermath

The summation post I want to do will have to wait for a little while. I still don't have my second journal due to unforeseen issues regarding travel and Chris. However, I wanted to talk a little about readjusting to regular life.

Mostly this was easy. It's a lot easier to use a flush toilet on demand, for example, rather than dig a hole or add to one's knowledge base about outhouses. However, there are things that were a little more difficult.

One was sleep. It took me a couple of days to iron out my sleeping. I stayed up too late on Friday and, Saturday morning, when the sun came up, so did I, or maybe even a little earlier. I was so, so tired all day on Saturday that by the evening I could barely cope. I finally went to bed early and felt a little more human on Sunday, but I still wasn't able to sleep in. I did finally start sleeping a little later during the week, added by the fact that when Anthony gets up to go to work during the week, he kicks out all the cats, closes the window and shuts the bedroom door, making it dark and quite. This is in direct opposition to the weekend where, when it starts to get light, I get up to shut the window and the curtain, often not being able to fall back asleep well, and the cats are about, wanting to kneed and purr on us in the morning. As sweet as that is, it's not conducive to sleeping in. Still, it was only a few days before I felt like I was back on track with sleeping and felt relatively rested during the day.

What took longer to work out was food. We did eat pretty healthfully on the trip, as noted by one of my kind commenters, but not as well as at home. We eat a lot more veggies at home than we did on the trip. It wasn't a problem for me to add those back in, though. No, what the problem was, was living without some of the treat foods - Cliff Bars, Barbara's Fig Bars, Panda's licorice, So Delicious Bars and the like. A couple of times in the next week or so, I actually snuck some of these items when others weren't around, ahem, in addition to all of us eating some.

Additionally, refiguring volume was an issue. I'd gotten used to eating a whole lot and, being the sort who enjoys eating, I wanted to keep doing so. However, even an hour of working out a day doesn't hold a candle, calorie-wise, to six hours. While my hunger probably reflected that change pretty quickly, my mind and tummy still wanted the large volume. I'd say that is still an issue to some extent even now, but my window of opportunity for blaming it on the trip is probably over. Ha.

The final issue, which is one I'm still working on finding a balance on, is exercise. I really wanted/want to keep up my fitness, but there's no real way to ride (or even do other exercise) six hours a day at home with life going on, as well, nor do I really want to. But, I do want to be as fit as I can be - cardiovascularly, strength-wise, agility-wise and flexibility-wise. I should note here that the bike trip really did nothing for those last two, so it's not like the trip was the be-all, end-all of fitness.

I took about a half a week really easy. I did do some bike rides, but they were relatively short and definitely easy. It wasn't long before I felt like I wanted to do more, but then we left town again for a couple of days, so it was even longer before I got going again and, when I did, I discovered that my flexibility was nearly shot. I'd hardly stretched at all on the trip. I was a little surprised to find that I hadn't lost as much upper body strength as I'd anticipated, not having done any pull-ups, push-ups, playing around on bars, or anything. I guess just holding my body up on the handle bars helped with that.

Still, though, I spent weeks feeling like I wanted to be doing more than I was, but not finding the time. I was doing about 3 bike rides of about 1 hour duration per week. I walked at least once a week for about 3 miles. I was doing a strength workout maybe twice a week. This isn't nothing, but it wasn't as much as I'd have liked. Now, to top off the challenge to keep up my fitness, the weather has gone way downhill.

With all this in mind, as well as other factors, Anthony and I crafted a three week challenge which we just started Sunday. Davan has chosen not to participate this time around. The rules are thus:

We're each keeping a food journal for these four weeks, which we give to each other to review at the end of each day.
I'm not going into a grocery store for the whole four weeks. Produce stands and Farmer's Markets are fine (and abundant!) as well as stocking up, which I did the week before a bit. Ordering food from our regular co-op or from Amazon is fine, as well. This just makes it so we have to plan in advance to have something. No spur of the moment, "Oh, let's just pick that up," stuff.
We won't do any added oils other than spray for the whole month. Of course, just to put your minds at rest, we do eat, probably more than we should even, nuts and seeds, providing plenty of healthy fats. We already don't use sugar or that would have been in there, as well.
I am limiting my computer time to 1 hour a day, giving me time for other activities.
We can eat out, but we must stick to whole grains, no added fats, very small amounts of sugar, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds. Thus eating out loses a lot of it's appeal, but we can do it if necessary.
Anthony and I have mileage goals to meet. We're counting in bike miles, but there is consideration for walking and hiking. 1 mile of city walking = 3 miles of riding. 1 mile of hiking with elevation gains on rough trails = 5 miles of riding. Anthony is aiming for 125 miles a week and I'm going for 75. This would be a decent goal for either of us in the summer. This time of year, it's a difficult, but do-able goal. This week, so far, I'm at 70 and it's only Thursday, but I've been riding every day so far, hiking twice and out on a walk once.

I've also been trying to get in at least three strength workouts a week and some stretching every day, but we didn't make that part of the four week challenge.

So, we're adjusting and trying to keep the activity and adventure going in our lives. Of course, we're also juggling work, household chores, more involved cooking, Do Jump for Davan and myself, but mostly Davan, seeing friends and family, time for books and just plan old down time.

We're looking forward to our next long-ish, away from home type adventure, which will probably be hiking around Mt Hood in the early summer. It's about 40 miles, part of which is along the Pacific Crest Trail, and we're hoping to do it in four days. Davan has heard our stories about doing this trip the year before she was born and her dad's stories about doing it with his boy scout troop several times as a kid and has wanted to do it for years. It's time to make it happen for her.

So, good luck on all of your own adventures, whatever they may be, and, if they're ones you want to share, be sure to leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 22! Home!

The last Friday of our trip dawned with mild temperatures and some wind. We were excited about the last day, but still had over 60 miles to do, so we got up, got dressed (in not all of our layers) and were off.

Here we are all ready to go from camp (blurry pictures curtsy of my parents' camera again, but we still like them):

We made plans with my parents to meet in Government Camp for a last breakfast together before they would just take off for home.

It was about 7 miles, mostly climbing, to breakfast. We saw Mt Hood again (although you can't really see it here, it's what Anthony was trying to get a picture of):

and passed Snow Bunny:

on this beautiful morning.

We had our usual oatmeal for breakfast, eating inside the van mostly due to the fact we were parked in a parking lot. Because we were out of dried apples or freeze dried apples or freeze dried strawberries (all of Davan's usual oatmeal additives), she had a bowl of pb&j oatmeal (well, really almond butter and fruit spread) that she was really excited about:

During breakfast, my step dad, Dennis, put on our favorite local radio station - I guess we were really getting home! - and we found out that the temps in the Portland metro area were predicted to be in the 90s!!! What a change from what we'd been in the last several days.

Anthony talked to Dennis about being home in time for lunch. I though, "Why? We don't want to rush the last day. We want to stop for lunch and take it easy!" and I said as much. Anthony just sort of looked at me, but didn't reply much.

We said our goodbyes:

and absolutely flew home.

All that climbing we'd been doing for a few days without a lot of down? Yeah. Well, this was reward day. Anthony, of course, knew it much better than I and, thus, he's prediction of home for lunch. We were home around noon.

Now, it wasn't all completely and totally down hill, but from Government Camp to about 9 miles out of Sandy was, which made for around 20 miles of pure downhill pleasure. We had a tail wind, too.

The tail wind stayed with us even when the downhill didn't and speed us along toward home. We came in via Boring (a town near here) and the Springwater Corridor (where we often ride), stopping once in Sandy for the bathroom and a Cliff Bar each and once just on the Springwater Corridor (5 miles from home) for the last of the Barbara's Fig Bars.

By 1:30 we'd unpacked, started laundry, done dishes and pretty much put everything away. I guess that's what what you get for traveling light. We each showered in turn, much to each person's pleasure, and then had the last of our Cliff Bars in celebration. We'd saved our favorite for that purpose - Mint Chocolate.

It was a great trip and we had to much to talk about as we went to pick up our mail and go out for a celebratory dinner at our favorite restaurant - The Paradox Cafe. And, I'll tell you what, while I was still feeling ambivalent about being home and about getting in the van to drive to dinner, getting into my comfortable bed at the end of the day sure felt nice.

Keep tuned for a summation post to come in the next few days. Thanks for reading about our trip. It's been really fun to revisit it for the blog!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 21! Three Weeks on the Road

By morning, it was cold again. And, again, we needed all our layers with a descent being our first bit of riding.

The plan for the day was to take a small road over to connect to to HWY26. We were expecting to turn onto that road about 5-9 miles after camp. My parents, again, were going to meet us for breakfast.

We found our road, which turned out to be a single lane blacktop with turns outs, in about 7 miles. We hadn't yet seen my parents, but we figured they'd find us. They knew the plan.

The road climbed a lot - we were really climbing up the flanks of Mt Hood today, as we'd been starting to do the last couple of days, each day climbing more than descending. It was a great bit of riding, though, with hardly any cars the whole time we were on it and it was very pretty.

We kept riding with no sign of my parents. I started thinking about looking for a stream for a water source to have breakfast. We figured if we hadn't seen them by the time we'd done over 15 miles, we'd just stop and have breakfast. Everyone knew that we were going to camp at Frog Lake Campground that evening. If we didn't see them for breakfast, it wouldn't be a huge deal.

Right around mile 13, they showed up. They'd, of course, missed the turn and had gone a ways before coming back. We sure were hungry.

After breakfast, they went off in search of yet another hot springs they'd read about that was nearby and we rode on.

Bunny bundled up on the bike before it warmed up, an action shot:

Just before we were thinking we were ready for lunch, our road widened out into two lanes, although traffic was still very low. Shortly there after, we came to the Clackamas Lake Historic Ranger Station and Museum. It was a small cabin with some displays that was pretty interesting.

One sign tickled my fancy. It'd never fly in this day and age. It was maybe from the 70s or so and there was a very angry fire fighter/ranger pointing to a raging forest fire behind him. The caption said, "Your Forest. Your Fault. Your Loss."

With water available and a picnic table, we decided it was time for lunch. It was refried beans in pita pockets with olives and seasonings along with apples and grapes this day. I tried for nut butter and beans alternating for lunch for most of the trip. This day, for some reason, lunch sat like a rock in my stomach. Anthony had said a few times that he had a hard time riding after we'd eaten a big lunch, but I hadn't yet faced the issue. Today, right at the end of the trip, I sure did. It was very difficult to ride. Luckily, our accents were sprinkled with a few descents in the afternoon and I just took it easy.

That afternoon, we got our first view of Mt Hood. It was a true homecoming feeling.

It was a shock to our systems to hit HWY26, which is pretty busy. It was still very pretty, but now we were on a shoulder of a very busy road with semis as well as cars and RVs going by. We only rode on it for about 5 miles, though, before coming to Frog Lake, our camp ground for the evening.

It was still early - around 2:00 - and I knew we had 60 some miles to go the next day, so I asked Anthony if he thought we should go on to make sure we could make it home the next day (which was only Friday!). He felt we'd be okay, so we called it an early day and made camp. It was our first fee campground in many days, but there aren't a lot of free camping opportunities on the more major roads, so we were okay with that.

We spent the afternoon checking out Frog Lake, eating, going for strolls and visiting with my parents after they showed up about an hour later. Davan and I wadded in Frog Lake, but didn't feel much like swimming in it, even though the afternoon was pretty warm. It was a rather muddy.

My parents had found their hot spring and reported that it was not a great one. There wasn't any real infrastructure there, so the very hot spring water was side by side with the cold river water and it was hard to find a comfortable temperature.

We had a lovely evening with my step dad providing back ground music for most of the afternoon and evening. We polished off a lot of our food, saving, of course, for breakfast and lunch the next day.

The wind was picking up when we went to bed and I spent part of the night listening to the ominous creaking of near-by trees rather than sleeping, but the temperature was mild and it was my last night in a sleeping bag for a while - a mixed blessing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 20!

We woke up to another cold morning and put on all our layers, yet again. Yikes! While it was nice in a way that it was mostly downhill the 12 or so miles into Detroit, it did nothing to warm us up!

Breakfast at a campsite down the way about 10 miles, though, with our usual warm oatmeal, did help some.

Really, it was another pretty day and we were looking forward to those hot springs!

Just after we left Detroit, where we stopped only to use the outhouse that was the only facility to be had at the local store, we turned onto the road that went by Breitenbush Hot Springs and were flagged down by my parents. They needed to fill their water tank and dump the gray water and the nearest place to do so was about an hour's drive away. They just wanted to let us know, as they'd talked about going ahead and checking out Breitenbush for us, but now needed to take care of the van instead. They asked us to leave a message for them with the people at Breitenbush as to if we were there, had skipped it or had come and gone.

We forged on, not deterred by a sign that said that reservations were required at Breitenbush, thinking we weren't staying there, so no big deal. Plus, either way, we were riding that direction. Eight very scenic uphill miles later, kept company by a bevy of dump trucks who were trucking asphalt up the road because of the paving project but not much other traffic, we came to the road for Breitenbush. It was uphill, gravel and a mile and a half long. I suggested we just skip it. Anthony, who I think was feeling bad about rushing us somewhat on the trip, was emphatic about going. He's not a water type person, nor is he comfortable with clothing optional, so it was surprising that he was pushing to go.

We met some employees part way up the road and learned that it was $15-$30, sliding scale, per person for a day pass to the springs and there were a limited number of day use passes available, usually booked way in advance. At this point, I strongly advocated for not going up. It was expensive and we might not even be able to get in! Anthony still thought we should go.

A little later, the employees passed again and said they'd called ahead and, yes, there were day passes available for us, which was very lucky, they said. Okay, we went on up. We payed the low end of the spectrum, still feeling like it was a lot of money and ate a quick lunch (what we brought, although we could have had lunch at their buffet for another $12 each, I think it was), then soaked. And it was nice. Very nice. The view from the tub was nice. The water was a good, hot temperature. It was very relaxing. $45 relaxing? Well, I don't know, but pretty nice and we were on vacation, right?

If Anthony had thought of it sooner, here, rather than these words, would be a picture of us in the hot springs with our helmets on. We noticed that we rarely took them off for pictures, so he thought it would have been funny to have one of us in the springs, heads sticking up with the helmets. You'll just have to imagine it, though.

After a good long soak, Anthony and I opted to wash up in the showers while Davan explored the grounds with my parents who'd shown up, but opted not to soak again, having just soaked for $5 each the day before.

By the time we were done with all that, it was snack time. We sat in a nice glider on the grounds and ate our Cliff Bars while chatting with my parents, feeling nice and relaxed...except that we had to ride some more. That, I must say, was tough, getting back on the bikes to work after such relaxation. We were able to go out the back way to the road, saving us from having to backtrack, but not from more gravel.

My parents passed shortly, asking how far we wanted to go before stopping for the night. I blurted out 15 miles, not having had an answer ready, as we weren't expecting them to drive by yet. If I'd known the hill that was ahead, I may not have been so generous with my distance...

We did, though, make it up the hill and then up and down some rollers, then just before starting a decent, Davan announced she really needed to relieve herself and couldn't wait for camp. I had needs, as well, so off into the trees we went. The ground was very, very hard at this particular spot and Davan was valiantly trying to dig her hole, but making little progress, so I took over. That went okay, but then, digging my own hole? I broke our trowel. Sigh.

Just after we started riding again, we hit a nice decent...and construction. Construction is not our favorite thing to ride through, as it's hard to keep up with the pace cars and it's scary to get left behind with all the construction vehicles not thinking there are people passing through. However, with the downhill, and the fact that we were the only ones coming from our direction, we made it through the construction zone with little issue.

Another mile brought us to a camp chair sitting out by a turn off. That was our sign, I realized, even though it had not been predetermined. With a squealing of stopped to find my step dad actually on the other side of the road, waving us in. They'd parked the RV on the side of the road with the chair, but he thought the spot on the other side was better, so we pulled in there and made my mom move in the middle of making their dinner.

It was pretty cool with a little shelter someone had made:

(sorry it's blurry - my mom took this one and was having camera issues) and a distinct lack of a large water tube the other side had sticking into the stream, which turned out to be used in the construction.

It was a little late with the lengthy stop at Breitenbush, but, after setting up camp:

we still had time for dinner, conversation and snacking before bed. We didn't bother to do laundry this evening because we were due to be home the day after the next and figured we could live that long. We just hung our things up to air out.

We were really getting close to the end now. I felt quite mixed about it. I kind of wanted the trip to go on, but the thought of the luxuries of home was appealing, too. Anthony and Davan professed to feel the same, but they also seemed like they were leaning more heavily toward looking forward to being home.

My parents, who were still with us, for the third night now, announced that they were having so much fun tailing us that they were going to just stay through to the end. So, there would be no additional phase for us.

We went to bed with it feeling a little warmer - I had to actually take my shirt back off in my sleeping bag - looking forward to whatever was next to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keeping You Posted

I'm only going to be able to do one day today. I've decided that, for the next four weeks, I'm going to limit my computer time to one hour a day. I've gotten a little carried away with reading blogs and such, I must say.

Each day of the trip takes me 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to write, so one a day will be the limit. We're getting close to the end, though, so stay tuned!

Day 19! Climb, Climb, Climb

We woke to a 40 degree morning. Brrr!!!! It was really cold for riding. We put on pretty much all of our layers and rode off.

We'd have had breakfast first thing if my parents were around because of lack of a certain water source when we'd want to be eating, but, because they were there, they moved the van about 7 miles up the road to this dam, where we were much warmer and had a lovely view for breakfast:

With the van around, even though we were still carrying all of our own stuff, we entered a new phase of the trip. We figured it was phase 5. Phase 1 was from home to the coast. Phase 2 was along the coast. Phase 3 was getting from the coast to Crater Lake. Phase 4 was the few days in between Crater Lake and meeting up with my parents. We figured phase 6 would be after they left. The plan was for them to stay with us a couple of nights.

We rode off and they went to the near by hot springs. I'll tell you what, it was hard to ride off into the cold and skip the hot springs. It was too early in the day for such a break, though, and we weren't excited about the thought of having to ride more after a good soak. We had miles to do. How many? Well, we had some goals.

In Oakridge, Anthony looked carefully at what was remaining for the trip and announced that 45 miles a day would get us home by Saturday. Wow! We were really thinking we were going to make it! We'd decided that we wanted to be home by Saturday to have at least one day of recovery/unpacking/down time before Anthony had to go back to work. We'd decided that we'd have my parents pick us up and take us home then if we weren't going to make it. But, 45 miles a day was totally do-able! The day before, even with me taking it easy, we'd made a little more than 50.

This day, my jealously over the hot springs led us to hatch a new plan over the course of the day. We'd get in as many miles as we could comfortably do, more than 45 for sure, and then the next day, when we'd be getting to Breitenbush Hot Springs, we'd have a short day and soak there for a bit in the afternoon.

We slowly warmed up, shedding layers. This day's ride involved a more major roads and more traffic, which was too bad, but the scenery was still quite nice. We started noticing signs for an upcoming lake and decided that made a good goal for lunch. Then we started to climb. And climb. And climb.

We climbed right past a waterfall that could have been seen from a little pull out - Anthony and Davan too far ahead for me to call to them - and missed. Anthony stopped a little later and I expressed my disappointment that we hadn't stopped. I must say I was pretty darn civil about it and he was regretful. It was my opinion that we were doing the trip to see things and if we could see something cool without having to go out of our way, we should do it! Anthony agreed and said he'd not let something like that pass again.

We were stopped at an entrance to a camp ground and we considered stopping there for lunch. It was well after noon by this time and we were hungry. However, the lake - Clear Lake - wasn't far off - maybe a couple of miles. Of course, climbing that could still be a long time, but we opted to go ahead and get there.

We got to the turn off for Clear Lake and the road started dropping. Severely. With switchbacks. We went down a few, but then realized that we were getting into a hole we really didn't want to climb back out of, so we went back up to the road, agreeing to stop for lunch at the next reasonable location and fortifying ourselves with raspberry candies by Panda. (We like the licorice the best, but the last store had only had the raspberry and they were pretty good, too.)

Shortly, we got to Fish Lake Campground and turned off. Well, it looked like it was, sometime in the past, a developed campground. Now it was more like a large semi-clearing, but hey, it was good enough for us. It was already about 2:00 and we were hungry!

Lunch was bean burritos with olives and seasoning plus apple slices. A chipmunk quite enjoyed our apple cores. Even though we weren't trying to feed them to him, not being into feeding wildlife, we had them sitting by us and he bravely came up and stole them one by one. We figured it was whole natural food and probably okay for him to eat, unlike Cheetos or the like and just let him.

As there wasn't any water source at lunch (there was no lake for all the name was Fish Lake), we went on with the plan of stopping as soon as we found a likely water source. About a 1/4 mile down the way, we found the Fish Lake Interpretative Site. They had picnic benches, outhouses and signs about local history, but no water. We looked around a bit, used the facilities and moved on.

Only about another 1/4 of a mile on, my parents passed and we flagged them down, asking for water bottle fills. They asked how much further we wanted to go so they could scope out a camp site for everyone. We opted for another 12-15 miles.

Then we climbed some more. We kind of wished we'd asked for a shorter distance. We kept climbing. We knew that soon there was supposed to be a descent and, after a while, we did hit a downhill. But then there was another up. It went on like this for way too long for my end of the day legs, but we finally did reach the descent, a lovely, long fly down the hill...but not as far as we'd climbed. At this point, we were starting to climb up the flanks of Mt Hood.

We stopped for the night at another free site about 12 miles shy of Detroit. It was a good camp site, with some wood in the fire ring (and a low fire danger area) and a fence to climb on. Davan and her Tad-ku (what she calls my step dad) built a fire, which was something Davan had wanted to do the whole trip, but we hadn't. After dinner around the fire, she sat for a long time, listening to Tad-ku play guitar:

But, after a while, her natural state of energy had her up and moving, playing on the fence, accompanied by Tad-ku's music:

We weren't right on the river this evening, it being down a short hill from our campsite, and we were hoping that would make it not quite so cold, but it was still a cold night. I, again, dressed in my tights and long sleeved shirt inside my sleeping bag for sleep. What can you expect for the Cascades in September, right?

We fell asleep with 55 miles under our belts, feeling good about making it home in a few days and looking forward to visiting Breitenbush Hot Springs the next day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We Did It!

We successfully completed our rides today at the Harvest Century! In fact, Davan and I did over 75 miles. The ride turned out to be a 76.2 mile course, on top of which we did a little detour, adding just over five miles. We miss read one of the pumpkin symbols leading the way, along with a group of about 20 people, and ended up having to backtrack. Ah well. 82 miles is even more of an accomplishment.

Davan was one of two 11 or so year olds who did the 75 mile ride. Every one else was an adult. I didn't even see any teenagers. Go Davan! Everyone kept asking her, "How old are you? Are you doing the 75? Wow!" It was quite an ego booster for her.

Anthony did the 102 mile course with a very respectable time - about an hour and a half faster than Davan and I took to complete our 82 miles, ahem - but it wasn't his fastest time. We were battling a serious headwind on the second half of the course, which made things fairly difficult.

Additionally, Anthony rode all by himself for hours at a time. He finds that he usually performs better when others are around. Not only do riders draft off of each other, making it easier for everyone, but passing and being passed is quite motivating.

The reason, though, that he was riding alone for such long periods of time was because he was way in the front of the pack, even though he started a good 20 minutes after Davan and I did, which was, in turn, about a half an hour after the course opened. I can't feel too sorry for him.

Davan also had her performance this evening, which went really well. She was quite up for it even after the 82 miles, which is more than I can say. I wouldn't have been able to do any acrobatics this evening and I'm not a slouch in the acrobatic department myself. That just goes to show that Davan is stronger and in better shape than I am, as I've though, even when it comes to bike riding. I'm usually faster, at least in the 1-3 hour or so bike ride, but it's just because I'm more willing to experience discomfort than she is.

Anyway, she and her fellow Zig Zags gave a great performance that was quite well received. She is rightfully proud of herself this evening.

Now we're all off for some well deserved sleep. I'll get a day or two of the trip up tomorrow!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sorry for the Delay!

We are in the midst of a couple of very busy days here. I'd have a moment to post now, but not being at home, I don't have access to my pictures or to a journal to jog my memory, so I'm afraid it'll be Sunday before I get a chance to post again.

Today was homeschool day at Phillip Foster Farm's, which was fun, but made our day a little hectic. We have our ride tomorrow (it's not too late to donate!) and had to get all packed up to come over to my parent's house to spend the night. The ride starts about 3 miles from here, but would have been a 45 minute drive at least from home.

In addition, I learned just last night that my parents were participating in a neighborhood wide garage sale, so I quickly gathered up a few things we had to add to the sale.

To make life that much more interesting, the temp in the morning should be about 38 degrees, warming up to 64 or so later in the day, meaning that clothing for tomorrow will be a challenge. No one will be carrying panniers or anything to put clothes on, us all being on our road bikes with no racks or anything, so we have to plan carefully for clothes. It'll come down to be cold in the morning and being, probably, too warm later. Ah well.

And to add to the challenge of packing, Davan has her first Do Jump gig tomorrow evening, which we'll be going straight to from my parent's house post ride. Whew.

At any rate, the next time I'll be home will be late tomorrow night. Sunday should be pretty free, though, and I promise to post at least one ride day then.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Day 18! A Road to Ourselves

Poor Anthony lay awake, looking at the bright light outside our window, worrying that we were going to miss check out time, which was at 11:00, rather than enjoying sleeping in. He didn't want to wake Davan and I, as, if we were still asleep, we probably really needed the sleep. Eventually, I stirred and checked the clock for myself. Anthony was anxious to know the time. 7:00am. The bright light was just the light in the parking lot! Poor guy, missing out on the luxury of sleeping in. We did doze a bit more before finally getting up.

We had plenty of time, though, to pack up, eat breakfast, which was a treat breakfast of "chicken" patties on whole wheat English muffins thanks to having a microwave and fridge in the room, and get on our way. The tent even dried out a bit in the parking lot while we did all that. It hadn't really gotten dry in the shower...

We peddled out into a sunny day. We were a little concerned about the mass of clouds you can see in this picture of us leaving Oakridge...

but it remained mostly sunny, while chilly, all day. The long, steep climb out of Oakridge did help warm us up in the morning, though.

After the climb and subsequent decent (chilling us right down again), we found this covered bridge in Westfir:

We didn't have to cross it, but how could we just pass it by?

At Westfir, we turned onto the Aufderheide Drive. The ride was simply gorgeous and we enjoyed practically having the road to ourselves. Much of the day was spend riding side by side. If we did see other vehicles, mostly it was motorcycles. The road went along the McKenzie River most of the day, excepting a long, steep climb over a ridge in the afternoon. The decent after way curvy, fast and really fun.

Oakridge would be a great place to live for a bike enthusiast. There were two great day rides that we know of - the ride we did getting into town, by the reservoir, and the ride on the other side of town, the Aufderheide.

I spent the whole day telling myself to just take it easy, enjoy the ride, eat plenty and often, and reminding myself that we could just stop if I got too tired. I was a little stressed about the previous two days of hitting the wall, you see. What I finally figured (a couple days later) was that I'd probably bonked because of it being my period. I'm often tired and dragging a bit both the day before and the first day of my period. It took a while to piece it together, but it makes sense.

However, even with my laid back attitude, we did 51.75 miles. We free camped just shy of Cougar Reservoir, which was Anthony's goal for the day.

This is the day my parents were to meet us, but as of finding camp, around 5:00, they hadn't shown up yet. We decided to split the camp chores and I went to do laundry in the river while Anthony made dinner. He'd decided that doing everyone's laundry was too difficult a job and he'd rather cook.

While I was washing, Anthony had just gotten everything out when my parents pulled in in their little RV. I said hi and then finished the washing. Anthony had not even started dinner. The stinker. He was waiting for the RV to get situated to go in and do his chopping and cooking in there.

I took pity on him and helped him with dinner. He admitted that he should have done laundry. I guess with me making dinner the whole trip, he hadn't realized just how time consuming it could be.

We had a repeat dinner of sweet potatoes, kale, onion and chili beans, as it had been quite popular the first time.

It was great to see my parents, who were very enthused about the trip, wanting to hear all about it. They took care of their own dinner and we sat around (in camp chairs! talk about luxury!) talking until past our usual bedtime.

Our journal writing took a big downward swing when they showed up, I must say. I later went back to fill in details on mine, but Anthony did not. Currently, my journal is in Pittsburgh, visiting Chris, so I'm writing based on Anthony's journal. Thus, I may not remember everything as well as I have up to this point, but it does come back when I start writing, so I may anyway.

We snuggled deep into our sleeping bags - it was cold! - and fell asleep to the sound of the rushing river, full of food and good company.

I'm Back

I'm back from my trip, Chris left early this morning (sob) and I'm working on getting through emails, putting the house back in order and spending some time with Davan. I hope to get around to posting day 18 soon, but, it may be tomorrow before it actually happens.

Meanwhile, Chris and I had a great three day cruise. Too bad we can't afford it every time we get together! We walked around Victoria in port on Saturday, but didn't get off the ship at all on Sunday, choosing instead to play cards in front of huge windows, looking at the view and to spend four or more hours in a very nice hot tub type deal in the spa - very relaxing.

Now, I say we walked around Victoria, but, in some cases, that was a loose interpretation:

This turned into a bit of a series:

But, I will not bore you with them all.

Davan and Anthony had a good weekend together, spending some of their time creating this in the garage:
This is what all those hours of Do Jump gets us:

Chris and I spent some nice girl time with Davan when we got back, going to the Chinese Garden:

and doing a little eating out.

Now, once again, it's time to get back into the swing of regular life. :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Day 17! It's Raining, It's Pouring...

It showered all night, drastically increasing in volume and frequency around 6:00am. I tried to sleep more, but, with the sound of the rain and wondering what we should do for the day, it was difficult. By 8:00, my bladder didn't care if it was pouring, it was time to go visit the facilities.

I dressed, but in camp clothes under my rain gear, not sure what we were going to do still, and went to the outhouse. Anthony also had needs and emerged from the tent. As if we were the catalyst, by the time we were done, the rain took a break. It was long enough to make and eat breakfast. Davan got served her third meal in a row "in bed."

I campaigned to go on. I had no desire to stay at that campground and worry about food. Speaking again with our neighbors, they 1) offered us more water, which, again was great and 2) told us they'd crossed the road we were planning on traveling on on a hike the day before and it was a packed gravel/dirt road.

That report pretty much made up our minds. The road would not be mud and we'd done very short sections of packed gravel/dirt and, while not speedy, it was passable. We let Davan know what was what and she replied with, "I figured we would be going on!" like we had been crazy to think of staying. She hadn't realized we were even thinking about it.

The plan was to try to make it to Oakridge, but, if not, to get as far as we could. We wanted to make it all the way and get a hotel. Our tent was going to be packed up wet and it would be more of a challenge to be relatively dry another night with that being the case. If the rain just proved to be too much, though, we'd set up camp and have less distance to cover before getting to town the next day.

Anthony got back in the tent to pack up, change into riding gear and help Davan tape plastic bags over her socks under her shoes to combat cold, wet feet. By this point, it was raining again. I stayed out to start packing up the bikes and just changed under the shelter of the trees.

When I was changing, I realized a sad, sad fact. As if I didn't have enough to deal with, I'd started my period. It was time to break out the Diva Cup. Right there under the trees (no way was I risking loosing it in the outhouse), I took care of business.

We finally were ready to go when Anthony realized the front tire on the tandem was soft. He pumped it up and off we went.

A half a mile from camp, the gravel road started. We expected to cover about 14 miles of gravel before hitting blacktop. Right away, it was steep, which was very challenging with the gravel. Particularly with the tandem, they couldn't peddle too hard or the back wheel would just spin. I found that if I stopped on too steep an incline, it was very, very difficult to get going again.

What was good news was that we weren't getting rained on. In fact, we mostly only got occasionally sprinkled on with just two heavy showers the whole riding day.

The road didn't remain quite as steep as it started and, thus, the going was easier if not easy. At one point, the road turned a bright red for a good stretch, which was quite interesting and inspired Davan to compose "Follow the Red Dirt Road," which I'm afraid I don't remember well enough to relate here. It's another thing I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of. Eventually, we leveled out and even did some descending while still on the gravel, which, while easier than the ascending, was still a challenge with needing to keep the speed under control for safety reasons.

Our path turned out to be quite scenic with some really cool rock formations, the mist in the trees and, eventually, the valley below us with the clouds hovering. However, it also turned out to be a little difficult to find. The path, that is. We had several turns on gravel roads to make and there were a surprising number of roads. We missed one.

We realized this when the mileage got to be 14 and then 15 miles. We stopped to look at the map. We figured we'd missed our turn, but the road we were on would meet up. Another couple of miles of the slow gravely progress and we checked the map again. Finally we checked our location using the GPS unit that Anthony had borrowed from work. It's the type of unit that only gives coordinates, no maps. But, it was enough to tell us that, indeed, we were on the road we thought we were on.

Finally, after many hours and 18 miles of gravel, we hit blacktop. What a relief! And it was downhill. Whew! If it weren't, we'd have been in trouble. We were all tired after the 18 miles of gravel and still had 28 or so miles to go to Oakridge.

We were expecting it to be all downhill, which it was for quite a while, and we were jubilant while it lasted. It was practically a party with the cruising along downhill and the relief of being off the gravel, but then there were some rollers. In our tired state, those were difficult.

The last 10 miles were along a very lovely reservoir, but I, for one, was too tired to really appreciate it. In fact, with 5 or so miles to go, I hit a wall yet again. For the second day in a row I was as weak as a kitten and had trouble even holding myself in a tuck position while going downhill. The sight of a very small hill ahead had me in tears. It was bad.

Finally, we hit town and stopped at the first motel we came to. I just sat down and told Anthony he was going to have to deal with stuff. I didn't even feel hungry, but once we got in the room, Anthony talked me into eating a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds (which tells you how sad it was - having to be talking into it!) and I almost immediately started to feel better.

It continued to shower intermittently outside and we were so, so happy to be in the hotel, even a slightly run down one. They were nice enough to let us wheel our bikes right into the room, which was great. We showered each in turn. Heaven! And then got back on the unloaded bikes to go out to eat.

We found a Chinese place that was fine enough and then hit a Ray's to stock up on food and get dessert. It was another big eating night with some baked potato chips and some So Delicious going down nicely.

Anthony did a load of laundry in the hotel washer and I got the tent out to dry some in the shower. We, again, had lots hanging up drying.

Davan enjoyed having a place to do a little tumbling, stretching and general rolling about.

With going out to dinner and all, our mileage for the day was 57.49, but the gravel felt like about double what it was, so we felt the mileage that day didn't accurately show the effort, but there it was.

We turned the TV on long enough to find out that dry weather was predicted for the rest of the week. We'd almost forgotten we could get that information from the TV. We were asking each other about what we remembered from our last forecast - up at Crater Lake - and then were wondering how to get an update. Anthony suggested calling the front desk to ask. Davan flourished the channel guide and said, "What about the weather channel?" Well, that was thinking.

We crawled into our warm, dry, real beds, absolutely knowing we'd made the right decision about getting a hotel this time, and with the comfort of a good forecast for the next day in our minds. We also decided that we'd sleep late if we wanted to and only go as far as we felt like the next day. It was a good night.