Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

No, I didn't carve these.  The pumpkins were from a Halloween party I attended last weekend in Bend.  But I thought the photo came out quite nice!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend in Bend

Last weekend I paid a visit to my brother Dale and his family in Bend, Oregon.  Bend is such a great town, situated on the east side of the Cascades.  The weather is almost always sunnier and drier than Portland.  And the mountains are practically outside your doorstep.

Golden meadow near Todd Lake

I wanted to do some hiking while I was there.  My nephew JJ suggested Todd Lake.  JJ loves catching frogs, and I think that's what he had in mind.

Todd Lake shoreline

Fall was in full swing around the Bend area.  When we arrived at Todd Lake, I was happy to see the grass and surrounding meadows were a nice shade of yellow-gold.

Nancy and JJ walking along the lake

But the weather wasn't as cooperative as I wished.  It was a little chilly.  And there was no sunshine that morning, only cloudy skies.  Oh well, better for photography.

A lone huckleberry

Dale brought his two dogs, and they had an absolute blast, running around.  The younger dog, Domino, loves to swim, and Dale wore her out throwing sticks in the lake to retrieve.

Bright red huckleberry bushes lined the shore

At the far end of the lake was the loveliest fall meadow colors I've seen yet this year.  The grass was golden brown, punctuated by yellow-colored leaves and bright red huckleberry bushes.

Approaching the opposite end of the lake

This kept me and my camera busy for awhile.  I lagged far behind everyone.

A palette of fall colors

I wasn't expecting a lot for fall colors, and was pleasantly surprised.  What a great display!

JJ found a tiny frog

According to Dale, the far end of the lake is shallow, and a great place to find tadpoles in the spring.  And later in the summer, a great place for frogs.  As late as it was in the season, we didn't expect to see any more frogs, but eagle-eye JJ spotted a tiny frog buried in the mud.

The north end of the lake was especially beautiful

The northeast corner of the lake was my favorite part of the hike.  There were lots of red huckleberry bushes contrasting with the golden grasses.  A couple of meandering streams wandered through the meadow zone.

A small meandering stream

I'm sure the view would be even grander, had it not been for the clouds.

Mt. Bachelor peeks out from the clouds

We were about 3/4 of the way around the lake, when the sun decided it was time to make an appearance.  The clouds began to lift, and we were treated to a partial view of Mt. Bachelor.

Dale finds a dead fish

Ahhh....sunshine!  It was most welcome!

Golden valley near Tumalo Falls

We returned to the car with time to spare.  Dale suggested we drive over and check out Tumalo Falls.  I'm always game to see a waterfall.  On the way, we passed by a wonderful valley with the best fall colors.  Dale offered to pull over so I could jump out and snap a couple of photos (thanks, Dale!).

Tumalo falls surrounded by fall colors

Tumalo Falls is located a short distance outside of Bend.  It is spectacular in any season, but in autumn it's amazing!  We hit the colors at just the right time.  And the mid-afternoon light illuminated the falls perfectly.

The view downstream

A path took visitors to the top of the cascade.  There, you could look downstream.  The forest was a mix of greens and yellows with a hint of rusty red thrown in.  By now, the sun was out in full force and highlighted the colorful scene. 

It was nice to get away and see fall someplace different than my hometown.  And you can't beat a wonderful place like Bend!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Roger and I have discovered one of the great things about attending college football games.  Thanks to my friend Chuck, we've been introduced to tailgating.

There's always a crowd around the food

Chuck is a proud OSU alumni.  One of Chuck's college friends Darrell,  and his wife, Sandy, have a tailgating parking spot.  At the next home game, Chuck invited us to stop by.

Halloween "eyeball" jello shots

Darrell is known for his jello shots, which are passed out to all who visit.  This week, the shots had a "Halloween" theme, with gummy eyeballs included in each one.

Everyone tries a jello shot

I wasn't brave enough to try them, but Chuck, Roger and Denise each sucked down an eyeball.

Roger with our beautiful daughter

Denise had a big test to study for, so she wasn't planning to attend the game.  But she joined her mom and dad for a little pre-game tailgating.

Food and conversation

Darrell and Sandy have a great tailgating spot located in a large parking lot just outside of Reser Stadium.  The parking lot is full of people having tailgate parties.  Walking through the lot, checking out everyone's setups is great fun.  Some are elaborate, decked out with canopies, flags, tables, and gas grills.  Others are very simple - a few camping chairs and coolers.  But you can tell everyone is having a good time.

Game day flags

There's tons of food to nibble on.  And maybe just a small amount of alcoholic libations....

Me and my daughter

Denise is 21 now, so she can join the party.  It's a weird feeling, drinking alcohol with your youngest child.

Chuck and his wife Janice

Of course, everyone is decked out in all things orange and black (go Beavs!).

Here comes the OSU marching band!

The OSU band marched through the parking lot, giving the tailgaters a little pre-game cheer.

The band marched by the tailgaters

There's nothing like loud marching band music to get you in the mood for a football game!

Fall colors coming on strong

Several people had footballs, and it wasn't long before they took to the parking lots to practice their passing.  Denise and Roger joined in the fun.

Parking lot football

And the game......?  Well, let's just say that the tailgating was the best part of this game day!!  (Better luck next week)

Thanks Darrell and Sandy for letting us join you!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Racing in the 'Couv

Way back last spring, I signed up for the Girlfriends Half Marathon.  Word on the street proclaimed it a good run that included lots of special "extras."  And it was an all-women race benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Sounded like a great event supporting a good cause, so I signed myself up.

Race shirt and swag

Last Sunday was race day.  I hadn't been training at the level necessary to run a half, so I wasn't very enthused about doing the run.  But I'm not one to bag out on a commitment, so early Sunday morning, I got myself out of bed, and traveled north across the river to Vancouver (Washington, not BC!)

Check out Teresa's running boots!

Yes, I was running in the 'couv, as we locals call Vancouver, WA.  Even though this city is a short drive across the Columbia river (well - depending upon traffic) it may as well be on the other side of the state.  This is one town I've hardly ever visited.  So today was my chance to become acquainted with the Washington State contingent of the Portland Metro area.

These ladies sported cool pink boas

My friend Teresa (who among other things is a kick-butt spinning instructor) was running Girlfriends.  While waiting for the race to start, I ran into Teresa and her friends.  It's always nice to have someone to talk to and hang with before the start.  Teresa tends to get cold easily, so she was bundled up in a puffy jacket and warm boots trying to ward off the fall morning chill.  She looked out of place compared to the other racers.  I also stopped by to visit Sarah Bowen Shea (aka "SBS") manning the Another Mother Runner booth.

Running skirt fashions

As the racers and walkers trickled in, I enjoyed seeing the creative costumes some ladies were sporting.  Because the race benefited breast cancer research and treatment, pink was the dominant color.  There were lots of pink t-shirts, skirts and tu-tus.  And one group of ladies were sporting fluffy pink boas.  Very fashionable!

I was wearing pink too, but not because of the race theme.  Exactly one year ago, I ran the Nike Women's Marathon, my first 26.2 race.  In honor and remembrance of this feat, I wore my finisher shirt from the NWM, which just happened to be pink.

A whole group of pink tu-tus

After a couple of bathroom breaks (I would've taken more, but it being an all-ladies race, the lines got super-long) it was time to line up behind the starting arch.  I hung out with Teresa and two of her friends, trying to keep warm.  I barely had time to snap a couple of quick photos of our group, when the crowd began to move.

At the starting line with Teresa and her friends

Another race underway!  No one lined up according to pace, so I immediately was stuck behind a bunch of ladies much slower than my pace.  I saw Teresa up ahead, snaking and weaving through the crowd.  I followed her lead, and wormed my way through the pack.

Shuffling towards the start line

A sea of pink-clad ladies surged into the streets of downtown Vancouver.  We passed through the farmer's market (which thankfully was not open for business quite yet).  The course then ducked under I-5 and the Interstate Bridge, and headed for the waterfront.  Glancing at my Garmin, showed that I was running fast - probably faster than I should be this early in the race.  But I was feeling good, so decided to open up and let 'er rip.  After a short distance on a street, the runners turned and entered a path paralleling the Columbia River.  What a beautiful place to run!  I continued on, quite happy and content.

Running under the Interstate Bridge

The course alternated between the nice river path and a wide roadway through an industrial area.  Cheering spectators lined a large part of the course, and I enjoyed their words of encouragement.  Of course, I was my usual obnoxious self, clapping for the other runners, waving, and woo-hooing every mile marker.  Since I don't run with music, it was self-entertainment.

About five miles or so, the runners turned around and retraced their steps along the river.  I loved seeing the faces of all the runners coming back the other way.  And it was great to see those wonderful river views a second time around.

Nice Columbia River views

But around mile 6, nature began calling.  I immediately regretted not taking a final restroom stop before the race began.  A service station came into view.  There was a port-a-potty sitting in its parking lot.  Only one lady was in line.  Not knowing where the next "rest stop" might be, I decided this was my best chance for relief.  Although I hate stopping during races, I didn't want to wet my pants.

Some of my fellow racers

My "rest break" probably took about 4-5 minutes.  But I was glad I stopped.  I continued on, feeling much lighter.  The course hit the river path once more.  By now the sun had come out, and the light on the bridge and river was great.  I slowed a little to snap a couple of photos.  A little boy and his dad were standing along the path and the boy held out his hand to high-five the runners.  I made sure to pass by, high-five, and thank the boy.

This little guy was so cute!

I caught up to and chatted briefly with a nice lady who said she was running her very first race.  But the course crossed the road and climbed up a bridge over the railroad tracks and I lost her.  From the top of the structure was a nice view of Fort Vancouver.  I followed the runners through the grounds of Fort Vancouver and by the Pearson Airfield.  A glance at my Garmin as I passed the 10 mile marker, showed that if I kept up my pace, I'd finish under two hours.  Wow!  I was amazed to be doing so well, considering my lack of training.  I didn't feel too bad yet either.

Beautiful day on the river

I continued on through neighborhoods and by a strip mall.  I was amazed by the number of people who lined the course, ringing cowbells, waving signs and shouting encouraging words.  There were lots of Dads with little children.  Some of the kids were sticking out their hands to "high-five" the runners.  I love it when kids do this, and I made sure to give a "high-five" to each and every one of them.  A lot of the kids were holding signs they'd made.  One little girl had a sign that read simply:  "I love you mom."  This was such a sweet sight, it almost brought tears to my eyes.

SBS and Jessie at the "Another Mother Runner" booth

Near mile 12, I finally started to feel the effects of my run.  We turned from the street onto an asphalt path that cut through a  park.  Only one mile to go!  The path was only slightly uphill, but at this stage in the race, it felt like a mountain.  Excited to be almost done, and seeing how close I was to beating two hours, I pushed as hard as I could.  We crossed back over I-5 and entered the downtown area.  Now the streets were lined with cheering people.  A couple more turns, and I hit the last block before the finish line.  And it was uphill!  Not an ideal way to finish a race, but seeing the end was near, I gave it one last burst and crossed the timing mats.  My watch said 1:57:42.  I'd done it!  Another sub-2 hour half in the bag!

Cute finisher necklace

Just like at the Nike Women's marathon, there were firefighters at the finish line handing out cute finisher necklaces.  After I'd cooled down, and partook in the post-race goodies (the food was awesome - bagels, fruit, hot soup, and - chocolate!!) I had time to reflect on my performance.  Considering my spotty training, I'd done great.  I felt good throughout the race, and held a solid pace.  Had it not been for my mid-race potty break, I would've run a huge PR.  (One of my friends later jokingly told me I'd "pissed away" a PR).

But a PR was not my goal.  All I expected from this race was to do my best, have fun, and not suffer too much.  Mission accomplished!  The sub-2 time was icing on the cake.  However, today's performance has me wondering if I actually train and put my mind to it, how fast could I run a half?

I came away mightily impressed with the Girlfriends Half Marathon.  The course was beautiful.  Vancouver has a lovely riverside running trail, great parks, and amazing community support.  The race was well-organized, had great swag, and provided a huge post-race spread.  And it was inspiring to see so many women come together to support a good cause.  Lots of positive vibes.  All in all a wonderful day!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Suddenly Fall

A large ash tree resides in our backyard.  Roger planted it from a tiny sapling when we moved into our house, over 20 years ago.

It's the first tree in our yard to change colors.  When this tree's leaves begin to turn yellow, we know fall is here.

I was home one morning last week, and the light on the leaves was amazing.  I dusted off my camera to capture some fall beauty.

When the leaves on the ash tree begin to turn, it doesn't take long for them to drop to the ground.  Time for Roger to get out his rake!

Golden goodness

This tree has grown so tall, it towers over our two-story home.  But this provides great close-up leaf views from our upper bedroom windows.

Goodbye summer.......Hello Fall!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beaver Fever

It's that time of year again.  The leaves are beginning to turn colors.  The morning air is crisp and cool.  Rain is returning to our forecasts.  My daughter headed back to college.  And that's time for another Oregon State Beaver football season!

Beaver fan on I-5

Roger and I again bought tickets to three OSU home football games.  By the time our first game rolled around, the Beavs had already amassed a 0-4 record.  Not a very promising start.  But for our chosen game, OSU was playing the Arizona Wildcats, a team with a record just as bad as the Beavs.  It was our best chance for a win.

A super Beaver fan

Driving down I-5 on game day is a lot of fun.  Many people decorate their vehicles with favorite team colors.  You see lots of college team flags flapping from car windows.  It's fun to pass (or be passed by) all the tricked out autos (especially if they're Beaver fans!). 

The fun spectacle outside Reser Stadium

Upon our arrival in Corvallis, Roger and I picked up Denise and her roommate Kristen from their new apartment.  We headed over to Reser Stadium to check out the pre-game activities.

Denise and Kristen ready for the big game

There were lots of booths outside of the stadium, giving out samples, or offering some sort of contest.

Roger testing his arm in the football toss

Roger gave the football toss a try.  Since he played football in high school, this wasn't too difficult for him.

The girls try some jello shots

My hiking friend Chuck was tailgating with some of his friends in a nearby parking lot.  He invited us to stop by. 

Tailgating - a football tradition

Chuck's friends had a table loaded with all kinds of good snacks.  They also had a cooler full of beer, soda and water.  And they also offered us some jello shots.  Roger and I didn't partake, but Denise and Kristen were more adventurous.

Roger and I are ready for the game

After fortifying ourselves with beer and snack food, it was time to head into the stadium for the main event.

Reeser Stadium panoramic

The day was cloudy and and threatening rain when we left Portland that morning.  I thought about bringing my sunglasses, but ended up leaving them at home thinking with the cloudy weather, they wouldn't be needed.  Well, about kickoff time, the skies cleared and the day became beautiful and sunny (and it's all because I didn't bring my sunglasses!)

The band takes the field

In the minutes leading up to kickoff, the stands slowly filled in.  By game time, the stadium was a sea of orange.  Arizona fans were few and far between.  Not a lot of Wildcats made the trip to support their team.

Here comes the team!

The game started out slow, with both teams still scoreless after the first quarter.  But in the second quarter, OSU came to life.  They scored three touchdowns, and a field goal, making the score 27-6 by halftime.  All us Beaver fans were estatic.  We were on track to finally win a game!

Band halftime performance

But after halftime, the Wildcats roared back into action, scoring three touchdowns.  All the Beavs were able to do is score a paltry field goal.  By the beginning of the 4th quarter, the score had crept to 27-30, with OSU just barely ahead.  Watching our large lead evaporate, we Beaver fans were getting mighty nervous!

The Beavs trying to score

But the Beavs pulled it off.  They sealed the deal, scoring their final touchdown with 5 minutes left in the game.  The fans in the stands went wild with joy.

Sunburned faces after a surprise sunny day

To celebrate, we all hit the local pizza place after the game.  Denise and Kristen also misjudged the weather, and had sunburned faces to show for it.

The Beavs win kept our hopes alive for the next game.  Fingers crossed that this is the beginning of more victories!